The cultural hub of Chandigarh, Tagore Theatre, which was closed in March due to the pandemic is set to open its doors. The very stage that has brought together scintillating performances and formidable acts has been missed by the culturati. The opening has the theatre goers enthused but everything comes with a safety check first.
Mukesh Sharma, director, Samvaad Theatre Group, is glad that finally Tagore Theatre is opening. “We have this addiction of hanging out at Tagore, catching performances. Now that the artiste in me, is raring to go back, feel the ambience with the hope to bring back stage productions.”
Through the lockdown, Mukesh turned his focus towards filmmaking. “Because of the lockdown, we didn’t work on any theatre production, but with this new move, we will work on one soon keeping the safety norms in mind.” A technician at Radiology department at the Government Medical College & Hospital-32, Mukesh understands that times are still not normal. “Coronavirus is reviving. So, we need to be careful, yet, we want the audience back. We will ensure all safety norms.”
Not ready to endanger people
“One major concern at this moment is darshak kya ayega?” asks Sudesh Sharma, founder, Theatre for Theatre (TFT). “Theatre thrives on its audience. Looks like people are still not ready to take any risk for entertainment.” He gives an example of cinema, how despite opening of multiplexes there is little footfall. He thinks theatre too has to wait for the audience to return. “While last few months have been rather tough on theatre folks, what good came out was the virtual platform that brought us all together to learn and train.” While the government’s nod to Tagore is a welcome step considering TFT’s 30-day winter festival is around the corner, Sharma would rather be safe. “Our winter fest is quite a spread from 9 am to 9 pm for 30 days with performances, workshops and ru-ba-rus. We have just started to chalk out the plan. We would adhere to all safety norms and would only go ahead if we think if we could do it without any risks. The aim of theatre is not to earn money but highlight social issues and if by staging a play, we endanger our audience then we are not ready to take that risk.”
It’s possible to brave the odds
Quite perplexed at the rising number of Covid cases, Shobha Koser from Pracheen Kala Kendra puts forth, “For us live performances are our life’s elixir, we cannot survive sans it for long.” While the webinars have kept her going, she hopes that along with the rest the cultural scene claims its space back. “We have started live performances for small groups ensuring social distancing; temperature checks and ‘no masks no entry’ policy. If Tagore opens, we would look forward to holding programmes there. Keeping 2/3 chairs empty, and safety norms, we believe live performances can be brought back too, after all people did celebrate Diwali.”
We will do it!
Atul Sharma, vice-president, Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi, welcomes the move. “Being a part of the Akademi and not being able to do anything was quite irksome. The opening of Tagore Theatre is a good move. We would be looking forward to the shows but with much emphasis on safety.