World Theatre Day: yoke with audience, novel writing- theatre veterans hope from gen next

World Theatre Day: Connect with audience, new writing- theatre veterans hope from gen next

With the pandemic and surge of digital content, the audiences are now exposed to world content. While theatre and live performance are always in demand, now more than before, acclaimed theatre actors hope to see an active theatre scene soon. On World Theatre Day, they share what they expect in the future.
Ratna Pathak Shah says, “Dark theatres are among the most painful images of the pandemic in my mind. Hopefully, going forward new and original writing reflects our experiences – the uplifting, the painful, the funny, the bizarre things that we have all gone through. Humour will be popular as a way of making sense of life today, as will musicals that provide cheer and strength.” She recalls watching two “wonderful musicals” – Jo Dooba So Par and Sangeet Bari – post lockdown.
Manav Kaul agrees that while the tastes of the audiences have changed due to the OTT surge, nothing beats “the magic of theatre, which is connect with the audience”. A self-admitted lover of experimental theatre, Kaul says, “The time is to push the envelope with new ideas and scripts. The young gen is exposed to so much from around the world. It is an amazing time to be in theatre and be an artist. In fact, I wish I had got this kind of exposure growing up. The biggest issue theatre faces is the problem of space. I saw a play in Delhi which happened in a garage along with a part of it in a living room, so intimate spaces can be used well. The language will change but everyone has to adapt.”
Makrand Deshpande is pleased to see that the audience has not gone anywhere. “But the new generation in theatre is struggling for spaces. There are alternate spaces but are they lucrative? The old problem is number of theatres and economics of it,” he states.
Geetanjali Kulkarni hopes that “small casts and small spaces for performances” be explored. “We should create stories in a form which digital platforms can’t. New generation theatre makers should collaborate with people from different fields and perform theatre not just in cities and formal spaces,” she remarks.
Deshpande says people want more “human stories” in times of the Ukraine-Russia war and pandemic: “We need hope in these tough times. Stories that more attentive, compassionate, sensitive, and have more empathy. As people have faced the unpredictable nature of life, they want to make the most of the moment. Human stories will work and as I think, people have got closer to God due to the pandemic, so maybe big spectacle plays about Gods, Mahabharata, Ramayan and other scriptures might click.”
Shah is glad to see some groups have already opened new shows including Akavarious and Tpot, “so the buzz is slowly coming back into our lives”. She says, “I hope that we see new and original writing that helps us make sense of what we have all gone through – disease, fear, war, social upheavals and the spread of hatred, death and loss, economic uncertainty and unemployment have been real issues for most of us. It’s going to be hard to bounce back since theatre does not have the kind of money films do, nor is there any government support but theatre folks are hardy and innovative and know how to make the best use of limited resources. I can’t wait to see full houses everywhere in Maharashtra which is one of the few states in India with an active theatre scene and an enthusiastic audience,” she ends.


Mumbai-based Kavita Awaasthi writes on Television, for the daily Entertainment and Lifestyle supplement, HT Cafe

Mumbai-based Kavita Awaasthi writes on Television, for the daily Entertainment and Lifestyle supplement, HT Cafe
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