The National School of Drama is one of the foremost theatre training institutions in the world and the only one of its kind in India. It was set up by the Sangeet Natak Akademi as one of its constituent units in 1959. In 1975, it became an independent entity and was registered as an autonomous organization under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860, fully financed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Training in the School is highly intensive and is based on a thorough, comprehensive, carefully planned syllabus which covers every aspect of theatre and in which theory is related to practice. As a part of their training, students are required to produce plays which are then performed before the public. The syllabus takes into account the methods of great theatre personalities who have shaped contemporary theatre in all its variety. The systematic study and practical performing experience of Sanskrit drama, modern Indian drama, traditional Indian theatre forms, Asian drama and western dramatic protocols give the students a solid grounding and a wide perspective in the art of theatre.
Besides its 3-year training programme, the School has also explored new vistas in the areas of children’s theatre and decentralization of theatre training through workshops under the Extension Programme.
The School has two performing wings – the Repertory Company and Theatre-in-Education Company.
The Repertory Company was started in 1964 with four artistes – Shri Ramamurthy, Ms. Meena Williams, Ms. Sudha Shivpuri and Shri Om Shivpuri – with the objective of providing a platform where graduates of the School could perform plays professionally. Over the years it has presented works of various playwrights and directors who have been associated with it and has evolved into one of NSD’s major institutions, working on contemporary and modern plays as well as introducing experimental work on a regular basis. In addition to doing productions, it organizes its own Festival, where past and new productions are introduced and staged each summer. NSD’s Repertory Company also tours and performs extensively in India and abroad.