The pandemic hit us all and in more ways than we could ever imagine. What was once a ‘normal’ thing to do has now become ‘unreachable’. Entertainment industry, for instance, was completely shut. Shootings were called off, cinema halls were shut, theatre houses were empty and all festivals were cancelled.
And although films and shows were easily accessible, thanks to the internet, theatre houses took a major hit. As practices were cancelled and auditoriums were shut, artists found themselves in a limbo. After all, how do you keep an art, which feeds on live audience and characters’ stage presence, keep alive?
This is where social media came to many artists’ rescue. As Covid-19 and its restrictions engulfed the entire world, artists started to think out of the box and found innovative ways to survive through the pandemic.
Moon Moon Singh, a dancer, actor and a theatre director, said, “The social media platforms helped theatre artists in many ways. During this period, physical proximity was prohibited but there were so many unexplored areas which we catered to during the challenging times with the help of digital tools.”
According to her, artists not only performed various productions but also conducted detailed discussions with scholars and theatre practitioners on all mainstream social media platforms.
Singh took online classes for theatre aspirants on behalf of Dramaturgy, a Chennai-based theatre group. As a director of Oorja Performing Centre, based in Noida, Singh kept her sessions going. At the end of her training, students were asked to perform their individual monologue. She was also part of an online International Ireland Film Festival. Moreover, she also performed a dance sequence during an online international dance festival organised by the Japan Foundation.
Shyama Manna, a Delhi-based artist and a theatre practitioner, performed monologues, and also encouraged other aspirants to perform. Manna also discussed several plays during online workshops. Who could have thought that a theatre performance, or even a monologue, could be delivered from across one’s desk?
President of Shaurya Dramatic society of TIPS under IP University, Shashank Rawat, said, “Acting is not all about literature. It is a performing art and we do not rely on online workshops. Online workshops are magnificent for only literature. You have to perform your character on stage to improve your skills and offline interaction with eminent artists always gives one more knowledge.” The members of the society also conducted online discussion of plays and performed monologues online. They also discussed their next production.