Imprinting its name in the global theatre map, India recently threw the floor open to the 8th Theatre Olympics, the largest theatre festival in the world. The event is being hosted for the first time in India by the National School of Drama, under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The 51-day-long nationwide theatre extravaganza was inaugurated by the Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu, on February 17, at the majestic Red Fort. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfDr Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of State for Culture (IC), and Theodoros Terzopoulos, Chairman of International Committee of Theatre Olympics, marked their presence as the guests of honour.Among the other esteemed guests was the Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Raghvendra Singh, Artistic Director of 8th Theatre Olympics, Ratan Thiyam, and Acting Chairman of NSD Society, Dr. Arjun Deo Charan, and Director of NSD Professor Waman Kendre, who along with many other dignitaries, members of International theatre fraternity and hundreds of people, witnessed another history in making at the lawns of the 17th century Mughal era fort. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive”The 8th Theatre Olympics will take Indian culture and heritage to the world and bring the world to us. Art has the power to unite people across the globe. India believes in the culture of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which means the entire universe is one, which is an integral part of the Indian cultural and theatrical tradition,” said Venkaiah Naidu.Speaking on the occasion Mahesh Sharma stated, “Art gives the message of togetherness, brotherhood, and friendship, and portrays social issues to convey the message to common people. We have a rich and diverse theatre tradition since ancient times and I hope this Olympiad would bring people together to share and celebrate the unparallel bonding of artist fraternity.” A spectacular musical treat titled ‘Geet Rang’ fascinated the audience at the inaugural ceremony. The programme presented a bouquet of selected songs from different theatre forms, traditions, productions, and campaigns in India that epitomises importance of music in drama and music as a means to elevate, purify and enlighten human beings.Voicing his opinion on the occasion, Theodoros Terzopoulos, Chairman of International Committee of Theatre Olympics said, “Through the 8th Theatre Olympics, we meet the rich theatrical tradition of India and we encourage the articulation of a free and collective voice which will defend the value of the theatre tradition, research, and experimentation.”Raghvendra Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, however, feels that the event is bound to take the national theatre to another pedestal.Towards the end, Dr Arjun Deo Charan, Acting Chairman of National School of Drama Society thanked all the theatre enthusiasts and experts for coming to the inauguration ceremony. Speaking further, she said, “Let us form a world where the boundaries between individual and communities are overlapped, obfuscated, and are mutually agreeable to exchange one. Long live theatre.”The theme of this edition of Theatre Olympics is “Flag of Friendship” and will bring together over 25,000 artists under one roof. The event will stage 450 shows from more than 30 countries performed across 17 cities, enthralling the audience for 51 consecutive days. Plays will be performed at Agartala, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Imphal, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna, Thiruvananthapuram and Varanasi during the festival. Besides, the Theatre Olympics will include 600 ambiance performances and 250 youth forum shows alongside thespians from 30 nations.The festival will conclude on April 8, 2018, with a grand ceremony at the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai.