The recent outbreak of the Corona Virus has affected almost every part of our life. India’s tally stands at 492 as on 22nd March and Maharashtra remains the worst-affected. While you, my funny quarantine, consume world news about the deadly virus, here is a brief insight into the effect of the pandemic on our theatre world.
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India began to shutdown around 20th March but situations like lack of footfall, ticket cancellations, calling off shows, rescheduling festivals and so forth started almost a week ago. The prep for any show includes rehearsals that happen months before. Ask a production manager to know how actors plan their schedules- sometimes (read: always) fighting for a single day! In a largely non-lucrative industry, theatre companies rely on the run of a show to simply ‘break-equal’. In these circumstances, the Curse of Corona has manifested itself in many ways.
- Prithvi Theatre had a complete shutdown post 14th March. Much like NCPA, Ranga Shankara and other venues across the country.
- The FatsFestival being organized by FatsTheArts was unable to put up their last run of shows directed by Faezeh Jalali.
- Giving Up On Godot, aRanya’s new play directed by Manav Kaul had an opening run from 17th-20th March at Prithvi. Abhijeet Singh, an actor in the same who was super excited for this one, said- “pata nahi mujhe…lekin haan, mere liye 12 shows hone waale the abhi… 17 se 20… mere liye to bahut bada dhakka tha…”
- Snapshots of a Fervid Sunrise produced by Playpen Theatre Company directed by Mahesh Dattani was scheduled to go for a second run on the 31st March.
- QTP called off the India Tour of Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer and Every Brilliant Thing.
- Rehearsed readings from Bhasha Centre’s 10 month Playwriting Course under Abhishek Majumdar got postponed.
- Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Sammelan organized by Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Parishad which was supposed to take place from 25th March-14th June was called off.
- The famous Marathi play Amar Photo Studio canceled their US Tour after performing 3 out of the 14 shows planned, incurring an approximate loss of 9 lakh rupees.
- Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, one of the most anticipated annual theatre event stands postponed indefinitely.
The list is way longer but an interesting observation has been the creative and unique ways in which artists around the globe decided to come together, continue a conversation and celebrate the spirit of theatre. Here are a few examples: – The Social Distancing Festival: Digital community of creators made to celebrate and showcase the work of artists around the world- https://www.socialdistancingfestival.com/ – SOFA SHAKESPEARE: Artists from all over the world are invited to submit 1 minute video excerpts from a particular Shakespeare play. The videos are then edited and stitched into a single, probably strange/hilarious performance that is released online. Romeo and Juliet is LIVE already! – Theatre Resources For Isolation compiled by Ollie Jones. Please email to access the email@example.com – Cartoonist El Torres or the authors of El Bosque uploaded all their comics for free for. Check their website for more- http://elvosque.es/comic/
– Aakaara is conducting online drama workshops called Drama with Doctor Seuss for children 10-13 years. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to know more. – Free Streams by The New York Metropolitan Opera at www.metopera.org
Jut FYI, when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear!
A lot is happening all over the world and we can use this time to be more productive, find ways to help each other and stay healthy. I would like to leave you with few lines from the Hindi translation of a poem that is doing the rounds of many of my theatre Whatsapp groups. It was originally written by an Irish Priest Brother Richard Hendrick about ‘The Coronavirus Lockdown’. Manasvi Sharma, a dear friend and theatre-maker translated it into Hindi. You could read the original poem on https://www.irishcentral.com/news/coronavirus-lockdown-poem
हाँ डर है
पर नफ़रत ना हो
हाँ अलगाव (अलग-अलग रहना) है
पर अकेलापन ना हो
हाँ हड़बड़ी में की हुई ख़रीददारी है
पर लालच ना हो
हाँ तबियत नासाज़ है
पर आत्मा बीमार ना हो
हाँ मौत भी है
पर हमेशा से ही प्यार का पुनर्जन्म होता आया है
उस चुनाव के साथ उठिये की अभी कैसे जीना है,
आज, सांस लीजिये,
सुिनये,आपकी हड़बड़ाहट के शोर शराबे के पीछे
फिर से चिड़िया चहचहाने लगीं है
आकाश साफ़ हो रहा है
बसतं आ रहा है
और हम हमेशा से ही प्यार से घिरे है
अपनी आत्मा की खिड़कियाँ खोल दीजिये
और शायद आप उन खाली चौराहों के पार ना जा पायें,