“It's incredibly important to diversify one’s skill set and be as resourceful as possible. If you are an actor don’t just be satisfied with that; learn how to manage a production, design publicity, sell tickets,” says Zubin Khetani, FLAME alumnus. He studied BA – Theatre and Performance, and practices what he preaches. He tells us how the seeds of entrepreneurship that were sown in the program, grew roots as he later pursued his MA – Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Interested in a career as an actor/director, Zubin immersed himself into the program at FLAME School of Performing Arts. Through hands-on learning from the best practitioners in the theatre circuit, he learned about the Indian and global theatre practices. However, something was missing. “I realized that several artists and artistic organizations struggle with finding a sustainable balance; creatively and financially. I became inclined towards devising a sustainable means of practice for artists - especially those on the fringes,” he says looking back.
That’s when Zubin began to diversify his interests from being solely a performing artist to a stage and production manager. But choosing the right program to further his interests wasn’t easy. He reveals that many of them are overly commodified arts. “The program at Goldsmiths is led by artists turned entrepreneurs, several of whom are active in practice, and leaders in their fields. It emphasized professional experience and invited applicants in the early/mid-stages of their career looking towards interdisciplinary development of their practice,” he explains.
The program has been a springboard for Zubin’s network and has kickstarted several conversations for collaboration across borders and fields of practice. Living in London and working with local theatres and arts festivals added to the experience. But he remembers that the journey began in another cultural hub – Pune. “I am immensely grateful to my alma mater for giving me direction and mentorship, which guided me to reflect and develop my practice. Studying electives from Liberal Arts programs broadened my horizons,” he says.
Over time, Zubin has developed his practice and work ethic. He highlights the importance of discipline as he says, “When you begin, you could have fewer rules but as work gains shape, discipline becomes crucial. However, it shouldn’t eclipse playfulness either. Yes, there is natural talent; people are prodigies, but there is no way around study, hard work, and experience to create sophisticated work.”
At this juncture in his career, Zubin has one regret. He calls it a drawback amongst Arts students, who fail to consume arts from beyond the circle of their interaction, which restricts one’s worldview. As for the highlights, curtain calls have given him a sense of euphoria. “But that is short-lived. I remember my experience performing short stories with students of Prism Foundation, a school for children with special needs. It taught me the value of theatre as a tool for community empowerment, how theatre can help people shed inhibitions, imbibe self-confidence and awareness. That’s learning for life.” he concludes.