HT Image
HT Image

Curtain Call: Collective experience of theatre is the only “normal”

In my previous article, I had disregarded the theory that the theatre experience will now evolve
By Nipun Dharmadhikari
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 05:16 PM IST

In my previous article, I had disregarded the theory that the theatre experience will now evolve. I am not sure if “evolve” is the correct term here. Because I definitely do not consider watching shows online as an improvement over the live theatre experience. Let me use “change” instead.

To be honest, I did begin doubting the existence of the collective experience in the future. These strong doubts were, ironically, given a rather insipid term – “the new normal”.

Somewhere around June, after being away from any kind of performance for nearly 100 days, the void started playing on my mind. I was aware that I was one of the privileged ones. Many theatre artistes, actors and technicians, were going through financial issues. We were trying to do our bit by setting up a fund for them. Many artists around me had adapted themselves to another new normal – performances using Zoom! I genuinely envied them and their resilience.

I finally gave in and performed online too.

Everything about it was pretty similar to our live show. Announcing it online, getting people to buy the tickets, getting ready to perform, the goosebumps before the actual performance, meditating 10 minutes before curtain, watching the audience fill up – every experience was similar to a show in the theatre. Everything, except the actual performance!

Something was missing. I could feel it while performing. But I dismissed it immediately because not being present in the moment while performing is one of the biggest mistakes an artist can commit!

A few friends started a gathering of theatre practitioners from across the country (online, of course!) and rightly named it “Theatre Adda”. The idea was to have an informal dialogue between the theatre community in India, understand what the counterparts in different parts of the country are currently doing and just help each other cope with the long pause in live performances. It was very exciting to interact with nearly two hundred people from all over the country! The discussion quickly shifted to online theatre performances and its pros and cons. We also discussed the new initiatives, many of the online ticket booking software had started and how to use them to perform. Some were looking forward to using this new medium in a high data consuming and content hungry country like ours.

Most of the people discussing were either actors or directors. While this discussion was on, one of the theatrewallahs interjected. He introduced himself as a light designer and operator, working for the past 30 years. He said one simple thing – “I cannot be a part of the online theatre performances and I miss the touch of my light operating board”.

That was a moment of reckoning for me. That right there was the difference between a performance and a theatre experience! There was no give and take between the artists and the audience. It was like performing in front of a mirror. Where you are watching yourself perform. Techies will now tell me about the “gallery view” in Zoom. But not everybody in the audience has their cameras switched on, even if we request them to keep them on. In contrast, most people don’t switch off their microphones. Honestly, I do have a fundamental problem with asking people to switch off their microphones. Do we ask them to put themselves on mute when they come to the theatre? (Their phones, yes!) We expect them to watch, listen and react! I know that not every performance needs an applause, laughter or any audience reaction. Some pieces work best in silence. But there is no denying the fact that even that silence has to be collective, voluntarily. Not by pressing a button!

It was right at that moment in the “Theatre Adda” that I stopped brooding about the future of theatre. I knew that it was secure. There was no substitute to this collective experience. And as John Steinbeck puts it: The theatre is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Navale Bridge Chowk audit report submitted, collector orders immediate improvements

By Dheeraj Bengrut, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:05 AM IST
In a bid to offer solutions to the various road, traffic and infrastructural issues from Navale Bridge Chowk to Warje Chowk, a review meeting was held by the Pune district collector Rajesh Deshmukh on Thursday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Citizens suffer as 37 CFCs remain shut since lockdown

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:05 AM IST
City residents are facing serious issues related to getting property tax bill printouts, birth and death certificates and other documents from the 37 Citizen Facilitation Centres (CFCs) across the city as the offices have remained shut since lockdown was announced
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Mohammadwadi-NIBM annexe residents demand action against speeding bikers

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:04 AM IST
Mohammadwadi-NIBM annexe residents have filed petitions seeking police action against speeding bikers after racing in violation of traffic law has caused a nuisance for days in the area
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Vandana Chavan unhappy with PMC over protection of water bodies

By HT Correspondent, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:04 AM IST
Member of Parliament (MP) Vandana Chavan expressed unhappiness over Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for not protecting water bodies and the biodiversity park
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Prakash Upadhyay takes charge as ADRM, Pune railway division

By HT Correspondent, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:04 AM IST
Prakash Upadhyay has taken charge as the additional divisional railway manager (Addl DRM) of the Pune railway division
Close
HT Image
HT Image

PMC to auction nine flats to recover dues from builder

By HT Correspondent, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:04 AM IST
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to hold an auction for nine flats owned by Nancy Icon builders and developers who failed to repay property tax worth Rs7
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Bavdhan residents hold E-dharna against garbage dumping

By Prachi Bari, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:03 AM IST
Bavdhan residents took to the internet to stage an e-dharna against the growing problem of garbage dumping in Bavdhan using hashtag #SaveBavdhanFromGarbage
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Nitin Landge elected chairperson of PCMC standing committee

By Jigar Hindocha, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:03 AM IST
Nitin Landge of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been elected as the chairperson of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation standing committee after he defeated the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) corporator Pravin Bhalekar by five votes on Friday
Close
Bombay high court. (File photo)
Bombay high court. (File photo)

Pune: Bombay HC asks media to not give unnecessary publicity to woman's death

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:30 PM IST
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale gave the directive on Thursday while hearing a petition filed by the woman's father against news articles on his daughter, her death and her alleged relationship.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Students demand improvements in exam process after 2020 experience

By Dheeraj Bengrut, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:54 PM IST
Students affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) in Pune, Nashik and Ahmednagar districts are once again worried about the forthcoming first semester examination
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Corporators set up helpline centres for vaccination registration

By Siddharth Gadkari, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:53 PM IST
In an effort to ease off pressure from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in registering citizens on the CoWin website, corporators have set up helpline centres in their respective wards
Close
HT Image
HT Image

1,848 new cases, five Covid deaths on Thursday

By HT Correspondent, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:53 PM IST
A total of 1,848 new cases were reported on Thursday in the Pune district
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Political leaders back weekly markets by vendors in run-up to polls

By Siddharth Gadkari, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:53 PM IST
In an effort to gain political mileage in the upcoming civic polls, local corporators and various political party leaders are organising unauthorised weekly markets in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits
Close
HT Image
HT Image

PMC fines 1,577 public places in 15 days for violating Covid norms

By Manasi Deshpande, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:53 PM IST
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has continued its drive of surprise inspections of public places to monitor Covid preventive norms compliances
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Private hospitals account for 303 vaccines in four days

By Namrata Devikar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:52 PM IST
Since March 1st, private hospitals in Pune have vaccinated only 303 beneficiaries at 10 sites across the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP