If one were to give you a free pass for a play to be staged by a veteran theatreperson at one of the most iconic venues in the National Capital, would you be game for it? Under normal circumstances, you would jump at the offer but given the Covid-19 scare the world is facing, you would perhaps have second thoughts. Wouldn’t you? After all, it is your safety and health which would be at stake.
Even as one contemplates on whether “to go or not to go”, Rama Theatre Natya Vidya (RATNAV) is presenting Giraftari, the first play at an auditorium in the post-unlock era at Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, Mandi House on November 6 and November 7. The debut production of Ratnav is based on Franz Kafka’s novel, The Trial.
“The last few months have been difficult for the theatre community. The impact of lockdown on performing arts has been immense. I’m glad we have got the opportunity to be the first play post-Covid-19 at Shri Ram Centre,” says media veteran and founder of RATNAV, Rama Pandey, also the producer-director and writer of the play.
Opining that the show must go on, Pandey says, “It is our responsibility to take adequate precautions and bring back our audiences. Mandi House is the cultural heart of India. Let it throb again, let’s reignite the passion again. The plot of Giraftari will remain relevant in all times as it addresses the plight of the common man.”
Feels good that theatre is coming alive again with SRC trying a staging but with the numbers (of Covid-19 patients) in Delhi soaring over the preceding days, is it fine?
— Pandies Theatre president Sanjay Kumar
It is the safety of the “common man” that Pandies Theatre president Sanjay Kumar is worried and is unsure as well as uncertain about. The veteran theatreperson says, “Theatre is an interactive medium. We project our voices from onstage, we laugh in the audience, get emotional. Safety norms are far more difficult than even in a film show and also go against the very spirit of theatre.
Kumar puts in, “Though life is returning to some kind of ‘normal’ but really what kind? Feels good that theatre is coming alive again with SRC trying a staging but with the numbers (of Covid-19 patients) in Delhi soaring over the preceding days, is it fine?” he asks, adding that he doesn’t want to be the nay saying voice but in his opinion, it is the most responsibility oriented demand today to not stage plays in auditoriums. “Theatre activists have to be socially there. Short performances in open spaces, yes, especially as the Capital’s numbers begin to go down again. But performances in a big auditorium, not yet.”
I’m sceptical of being at an auditorium and sitting there to watch a play for an hour or two. Neither will I choose to go nor will I advise someone to go
— Theatre and movie actor SK Batra
Agrees seasoned theatre and movie actor SK Batra. “Not at all. I’m sceptical of being at an auditorium and sitting there to watch a play for an hour or two. Neither will I choose to go nor will I advise someone to go. The third phase of pandemic has already started and just for the sake of going and watching a play will not be a sensible decision.”
But there are theatre enthusiasts like Noida-based Sudhanshu Thareja who says come whatever may, he will surely be there to watch Giraftari. “Imagine a play being staged after so many months. I have been waiting for this to happen for long. And when the organisers are taking all necessary precautions including social distancing, what is there to be scared about?” he asks.
Thareja’s feelings are echoed by Shalimar-based Shreya Kaura. “There is no need to feel scared. Don’t we go out to buy vegetables from the vendor, get milk from the booth and take out cash from ATM when we need money. Even there the chances of infection are there so why worry here they are taking precautions,” she says.
I have been waiting for this to happen for long. And when the organisers are taking all necessary precautions including social distancing, what is there to be scared about?
— Sudhanshu Thareja
On the other hand are theatre-lovers like Gurugram resident Deepak Kumar Raj who feel the play should have been staged once the situation would have normalised. “I love watching live plays but when the cases are increasing again, why would I want to put myself at risk?” he questions.
Theatre-lover Subhashini Sharma too feels it is not sensible to be at an auditorium to watch a play. “My life is more valuable than a play any day. What if I get infected? No, no. I’m not going to take any chances till all this settles down once and for all,” she says.
The play photos are for representation purpose only