After a break of over six months due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the National School of Drama (NSD) is set to stage its first play after the government announced the decision to unlock theatres. Even as each and every corner of the institute is being sprayed by sanitiser and disinfectants, the community of actors and mentors are picking up the thread and preparing for staging the first play named ‘Pehla Satyagrahi’,written by Ravindra Tripathi and directed by Suresh Sharma, the Indian Express reported.
Based on the life of the father of the nation, the play traces the journey of Gandhiji from a young lawyer fighting for the rights of fellow Indians in apartheid South Africa to becoming the single biggest anti colonial force in the Indian subcontinent. The play also marks the birth anniversary of Gandhiji with three shows of the play scheduled on October 2, 3 and 4 in succession.
Suresh Sharma, Director-in-charge of NSD told the Indian Express that performing in the times of Coronavirus is a novel experience for the actors as the process of preparation and acting the play has dramatically changed due to the pandemic. Adequate changes have also been brought in the seating arrangement for the audience as they will be seated at a gap of more than 6 feet from one another.
Reminiscing the long break due to the Coronavirus lockdown, Sharma said that the hiatus was the longest ever break for most actors at the institute to the extent that actors also started forgetting the storyline and their respective parts in the play.
To add to it, the actors are not only encumbered with following various social distancing guidelines but are also nervous to perform before a ‘masked’ audience. Because of face masks the actors won’t be able to read expressions on the face of the audience which is one of the most crucial aspects that distinguishes theatre from films. Concerns for the actors don’t end here as they are also unsure whether people will actually turn up to watch them perform in view of the fear of Coronavirus.
Theatres and other entertainment avenues bore the heaviest brunt of the pandemic as the closed spaces were believed to be most prone for the spread of the virus. The recovery for entertainment industry will also be difficult as people might show restraint in coming out of their houses to be present at these venues.