A Mumbai theatre troupe ropes in the pandemic audience, gets moving

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All of them watched the couple combat – observed their tense physique language, the clanging of utensils. They watched from the home windows and the kitchen door; some sipped tea made by the girl as a part of the act. When the couple lastly known as a truce, the group walked out into the backyard of The Firm Theatre’s (TCT) 5-acre Kamshet residency and sat down by a lake.

There was no stage, no chairs, no curtain calls and no spoken phrases on the first efficiency by TCT after the six-month pandemic-prompted break. As a substitute, the occasion featured 9 acts and a socially distanced viewers that might additionally select to take part — by sipping tea, serving to plant a tree, strolling into the lake, relying on what the scene demanded.

The place Have All The Woods Come From, first carried out on September 22 (there are 10 extra performances scheduled in Kamshet by the top of November) was an immersive two-and-a-half-hour efficiency, and an train in how restrictions may spark innovation within the performing arts.

“The efficiency represented the totally different states that people, particularly artists, had been inhabiting within the nation — amid CAA, prolonged restrictions in Kashmir. The lockdown was the final nail within the coffin. There was anger, frustration, melancholy. It was all very darkish. We meander round these states with none spoken phrase,” says creative director Atul Kumar.

So, there are beds, shrouds, on a regular basis banalities became group dance, a violent and aggressive chopping of a fish/flesh with a butcher’s knife as a Kathak dancer performs alone on a stage far-off; there are clowns, individuals ready for one thing to occur, one thing that by no means does. There may be friction and co-existence on the identical time.

The format was additionally a response, Kumar says, to being within the midst of different human beings after months of isolation. “Stepping out, interacting with others was overwhelming, it felt like we had been all underneath a spell,” Kumar says.

Pune filmmaker Anupam Barve, 36, who was within the viewers, described the expertise as fascinating, “as soon as I loosened up”. Coming from a standard Marathi theatre background, this type of performative expertise was new. “I had my reservations initially,” he says.

However because the play progressed and viewers members learn poems and essays and listened to music and planted saplings, let go of their umbrellas and loved the rain, “I had utterly submitted to the efficiency,” he provides.

Is that this the way forward for theatre then — immersive, interactive, minimalist? “Theatre has survived wars and epidemics and financial meltdown for 1000’s of years and so it is going to now too,” says Kumar. “What varieties it is going to emerge in post-Covid is anybody’s guess. However I’m excited to see what theatre will speak about, whether or not will probably be extra inside, extra collaborative, extra tolerant.”

The performers every took one thing else away from the expertise. “To be a part of one thing that goes past the spoken phrase, that unites you with your self and nature… that’s one thing all of us want now greater than ever,” says Bharti Perwani, one of many 9 performers.

Up subsequent for The Firm Theatre is a ‘efficiency web site’, a digital and collaborative theatre format. “It’s a kind of on-line museum the place you’ll be able to enter totally different rooms to expertise totally different components of the present,” says Kumar. “The management stays with the viewers as they make selections to do that or that.”

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