The National School of Drama (NSD) 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.
One of the main annual festivals organized by NSD is the Bharat Rang Mahotsav (BRM) which was started with the aim of contributing to the growth and development of theatre across the country. From being a national festival that presented the work of some of the most creative theatre artists in India, it has grown into an international event, hosting theatre companies from around the world. The Bharat Rang Mahotsav is today acknowledged as one of the largest theatre festivals of Asia dedicated solely to theatre. In addition to the national and international productions/ performances that are staged during the Festival, the fare also includes exhibitions, conferring of awards/tributes, interactive sessions with directors and performers for the general public and professionals, photographic exhibitions featuring landmark productions, open forums and meetings and a shorter festival in another city to which some of the productions travel.
Additionally, NSD also organizes 'Allied Events Activities' such as World Theatre Forum, National Seminars, Masterclasses etc. in which artists, theoreticians and experts from the field of theatre and its allied arts are invited to participate. In the last four years, NSD has also hosted the 9th Asia Pacific Bond Theatre Schools Festival and Directors' Meet, 2016, and 8th Theatre Olympics in 2018.
As part of its mandate to strengthen education and training in theatre NSD regularly organizes and takes part in exchange programs for its students and faculty, both nationally and internationally.
From 2016 to 2017 and 2019 to 2020 theatre groups and artists from countries like China, USA, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, Italy, England, Russia, Israel, Turkey, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Romania, Singapore. Poland, Nepal, USA, Czech Republic have showcased their performance in the Bharat Rang Mahotsav. From 2016 to 2020, theatre practitioners and experts from countries like Switzerland, Thailand, New York, Armenia, Brazil, Afghanistan, Italy, Sri Lanka, Norway, Singapore, Iceland, Austria, Nepal, London, Russia, Germany, Brazil, Netherlands, Uruguay and Canada have participated in the World Theatre Forum organized by NSD.
During the 9th Asia Pacific Bond Theatre Schools Festival and Directors' Meet organized in 2016, theatre experts from countries like Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam have conducted workshops and showcased their productions. In the 8th Theatre Olympics organized by NSD in 2018 theatre groups/artists/performers from various countries like USA, UK, France, Denmark, Japan, Poland, Italy, Australia, Germany, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Czech Republic, Mauritius, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Israel, Lithuania and Azerbaijan have participated.
In 2016, a faculty member of NSD participated in a cultural exchange programme between NSD and Iceland Academy of Arts to conduct a workshop titled 'Modern Indian theatre: Locating hybridity in Iceland'. During the same year, a team of faculty and students of NSD participated in the 3rd Asian Traditional Theatre Workshop organized on behalf of the UNESCO Chair on Theatre Education and Central Academy of Drama, Beijing, China. Their performance on Indian Sanskrit Drama was showcased during the festival and the team also conducted workshops for students from China, Japan and Korea. NSD is also a member of Asia Theatre Education Centre (ATEC) with its Director being one of the Executive Directors of ATEC. In 2016, faculty staff of NSD participated in ATEC's 2nd World Theatre Convention and 4th Asian Theatre Schools Festival organized by Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture (MSUAC).
A student exchange program was signed between National School of Drama and Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), London in 2011 to provide exposure to senior artists as well as technical and design students through the richness and expertise of two world renowned theatre schools. It also enables them to explore variation in the art form as practiced in two highly individual cultures. During 2016 to 2019 many students and faculty members of NSD and RADA have visited respective countries to study the art of lightning, design, stage management and other technical aspects of theatre.
Apart from these achievements, during 2016 -2020, artists of NSD have regularly participated in various other international festivals and workshops such as Sam Wanamaker Students Drama Festival, organized by the Globe Theatre, London, 2017; 10th and 12th Asia Pacific Bond Theatre Schools Festival and Directors' Meet (2017 and 2019); and BRICS Countries Drama School Festival, Russia, 2018; among other events.