Need to find alternative income for theatre artistes, says Sonali Kulkarni on World Theatre Day

Although Lillete Dubey misses the theatre experience, she acknowledges the contribution of digitization to theatre.

Sonali Kulkarni

Our Correspondent

On World Theatre Day today, Sonali Kulkarni and other theatre artistes associated with Zee Theatre looked back at how difficult life has been in the past year for those associated with theatre owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still raging.

“The pandemic has obviously been hard not only for the actors, directors, and writers but also for technicians, lightmen, sound designers, set designers, play coordinators, booking assistants," said Kulkarni, who is part of Zee Theatre's White Lily & Night Rider and Rahenge Gardish Mein Taare. "The entire theatre fraternity across regions, states, big and small towns, has been in a crisis. We need to somehow find alternative sources of income for people whose livelihoods have been taken away.”

Aahana Kumra

Aahana Kumar, who stars in Zee Theatre’s Sir Sir Sirla, believes there is no alternative to live theatre. “Nothing can replace the feeling you get while performing before an audience," she said. "Thankfully, after a lull, a lot of theatres are opening. I and some fellow artistes have been cheering each other all this while by rehearsing safely and doing a couple of Zoom readings.”

But Kumra also believes that one has to adjust to the given set of conditions. “We have to move with the times because digital spaces are where millennials are," she said. "Digitized plays can broaden the appeal of theatre and extend its reach.”

Lillete Dubey

Lillete Dubey echoed these sentiments. “I know some of us have tried to do things online in the past year and it's wonderful," she said. "Personally, though, I feel the very essence of theatre is human interaction and that is what I miss the most.” Dubey is seen in Zee Theatre’s play Womanly Voices.

Mahesh Dattani, known for directing plays like Dance Like A Man and 30 Days In September, preferred to look at the positive side of the pandemic and the subsequent shutting of theatre. “Although 2020 was a dark year, it wasn’t a year wasted," the playwright said. "Many practitioners learnt new skills and connected with artistes across the world through online readings, workshops, performances, and more. I have never directed two plays simultaneously in my life, but I did it during the pandemic!”

Mahesh Dattani

Although he loves traditional theatre, Dattani is all for digitization as well. “Theatre is the parent of every other form of storytelling and will remain irreplaceable," he said. "The pandemic is like a hiccup compared to what theatre people have to go through in the best of times! As for digitization, it foreshadowed the pandemic in a way, and I am grateful for the service it has rendered to theatre.”

World Theatre Day is celebrated each year on 27 March. It was initiated by the International Theatre Institute in 1961.

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