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Theatre digitized

Bengaluru artistes will celebrate World Theatre online and you can also watch teleplays by Zee Theatre

It is ironic that theatre is going to be celebrated online this World Theatre Day, considering it is a live art form. However, Bengaluru’s theatre artistes aren’t defeated by the lockdown and have found ways to celebrate on March 27. Abhishek Iyengar, founder of WeMove Theatre, will be hosting an event on Facebook. “People can share two minute videos reading out a line or a part from their favourite play. You can whatsapp the video to 9886062324.”

Shiva Pathak, co-founder of Sandbox Collective, says: “Times of the pandemic has made us realize that to liven our spirits, we should do the Great Galatta! It will of course be online, we are still figuring out the nitty-gritty of it all, so watch out for more information on our social media, Facebook and Twitter.”

Nisha Abdulla will be starting an online writing group for teenagers.

Zee brings theatre to your homes

You can watch Zee Theatres teleplays, which digitizes plays for both television and online audiences. Zee Theatre will archive and curate old and new plays, for a wider range of audience. Zee Theatre has partnered with personalities such as Swara Bhaskar, Divya Dutta, Sarita Joshi, Ira Dubey, Reema Lagoo, Samta Sagar, Sonali Kulkarni, Zeeshan Ayyub and directors such as Mahesh Dattani, Purva Naresh, Akash Khurana, and Usha Ganguly.

Independent creative curator/producer Shailja Kejriwal , who conceptualized Zee Theatre’s teleplays, says: “In most places it is difficult to watch live performances. Plays need to go out to more and more people because they have wonderful stories and most of the plays make powerful social statements. If people can’t come to watch plays, why don’t we take the plays to people’s homes so that they can watch it as per their convenience?

Shailja has united six Indian and six Pakistani executives under the venture name Zeal For Unity (in relationship with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd). She used art to get the two nations together making her the very first Indian producer, in the history of cinema, to have produced films by Pakistani makers. Her other milestone was ‘Imagine TV’.

However considering that theatre is a live art form won’t digitizing run contrary to it? Shailja says: “My belief is that theatre is something that needs to be seen live. But theatre is also about great storytelling. For example National theatre Live, an initiative by Royal Theatre, London, which broadcasts their performances live, has done this successfully.”

Shailja says they also want to archive the works of theatre masters. Though, she agrees, that selecting plays has been a massive task. “There are some plays which we don’t select. Especially those plays that are a visual spectacle to be seen live, for example, Feroz Khan’s Mughal-e-Azam. There is no point me showing that play because it is a play that needs to be watched live and hopefully a lot of people will get to see live at some point. Lots of other plays are extremely interesting from the point of view of the narrative. We select plays that have a strong narrative and performances. We try to show stories that are powerful.”

Speaking about some powerful scripts, Shailja says: “Shireen Shah is about the loss of the identity of Muslim women during the Gujarat riots. We have a very interesting play called Ok, Tata Bye Bye, written by Purva Naresh, which is about sex workers. Swadesh Deepak’s Court Martial addressing caste biases within the Army is another interesting play. We take up plays which need to be discussed about.”

The theatre space is far more democratic than mainstream cinema and even television, will Zee Theatre’s Teleplay change the dynamics of that on screen? Shailja says: “It gives me great joy to have people who are hugely talented to be seen by so many people.”

The teleplays are available on Zee5, Dish TV Rangmanch Active Ch #356 and D2H Ch #214, Tata Sky Theatre Ch #316, Airtel Spotlight Ch #191 and Vodafone Play.

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