The Show Goes On

Written by Dipanita Nath

Published: March 27, 2020 1:06:16 am

world theatre day, world theatre day celebrations, Quarantine Theatre Festival, The Roots India, art, culture, lifestyle, coronavirus, quarantine, indian express news A performance made available by The Roots India

Do you think of Lady Macbeth while washing your hands repeatedly, Hamlet’s “To Be or Not To Be” when deciding on household chores or Romeo and Juliet as you stand on a balcony late evening? If so, you belong to a community of theatre regulars for whom the lockdown means spending endless days without drama. Theatre has found a way to reach the audiences. A number of performers from across genres are facing the lockdown by screening, streaming and sharing some of their best productions to audiences or offering masterclasses. Today, on World Theatre Day, you could celebrate with some of these works:

Quarantine Theatre Festival

Where: Facebook page of Asmita Theatre Group

When social distancing came into effect across India, Arvind Gaur, director of Asmita, a Delhi-based activist theatre group, messaged members of his group: “Log pareshan hai, dare hai, dukhi hai (people are worried, frightened and sad). What is the responsibility of an artist who uses theatre as a social tool?” The brainstorming resulted in the Quarantine Theatre Festival, on March 21 –31, featuring screenings of the group’s best shows. The recordings are from Asmita’s archives and smartly shot and edited. A new play opens at 7 pm every day but you can view anytime and anywhere.


Where: Facebook page of Manish Joshi

Theatre director Manish Joshi began his Facebook post with, “You have all heard of Dada Lakhmi Chand but nobody knows anything about him.” He has shared a recording of his play, Lakhmiprem, so that people, confined to their homes, can understand the life of one of the greatest poets and performers of the Haryanvi language. Chand is the writer of major works of Swaang, a form of folk performance, such as Nal-Damyanti, Mirabai, Satyavan-Savitri and Puran Bhagat. The 1.14-hour recording of the play travels the arc, from Chand as a young boy deeply interested in Swaang to him becoming a writer with a large following.

Workshop on Puppets

Where: Facebook page of Anurupa Roy

One of the leading theatre practitioners of India, Anurupa Roy tells gripping stories on stage and street using puppets. Now, she is conducting a workshop on puppetry through her Facebook page. The week-long initiative, from March 22, started as a response to requests from adults and children and began with the Rajasthani kathputli. Roy has recorded the video on her cellphone to create an informal and “homemade” feel; she speaks directly to the viewers, keeps her lecture short and conversational and supplements it with descriptive notes on the history of puppet traditions and links to recordings of shows by master puppeteers.

BBO In The Clouds

Where: Instagram page of Black Box Okhla

Black Box Okhla, a performance space in Delhi, offers a chance to be part of a masterpiece. They are running a “virtual engagement” programme called “BBO in the Clouds”, which works on the premise that “if your smart phone screen was your own Black Box, what would you stage?” Every day at 5 pm, the organisers put up a post on their Instagram page and ask you to vote. The programme runs till March 31.

The Roots India

Where: WhatsApp

“I know that staying confined to the house can be unsettling but we can interact over social media. I though literature is a good way to escape present anxieties. Let us read some stories and poems to each other,” says actor Zeeshan Ayyub in a recorded video. He reads out from Harishankar Parsai’s Mahatma Gandhi ko Chitthi Pahunche, a story that resonates with present politics. The video is a part of the collection that The Roots India art organisation is making available publicly “to keep the artistic instinct alive in all of us”.

The arts inputs will arrive on your phone in the form of a poem, recording of a play, short story or reading materials such as the writings of Bhagat Singh. Till now, the group has sent out an enjoyable 18-minute shadow puppet performance, Machhar Ka Pyara Sandesh, a poem by Sahir Ludhianvi titled Yeh His Ka Lahu Hai, and a letter from Bhagat Singh to Sukhdev on April 5, 1929, among others. Register on WhatsApp number 9953384330.

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