As the COVID-19 threat looms large in the Valley, a group of theatre artists braved the virus by coming forward and resuming rehearsals for plays. Although the stage is set for the artists, the seats remain empty due to the health restrictions in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put a halt to all cultural gatherings including theatre.
But artists are still enthralling the audiences via virtual means. "The reason why we have restarted theatre and cultural activities so that the creativity of the artists remain intact. The initiative to restart theatre has been taken by artists and with a view of doing something, they opted to set up an online theatre," Mushtaq Ali Ahmad, a theatre director told ANI.
He added, "We would be recording these plays but we are unaware to which platform we would send it to. But the rehearsals are underway." The director further said that the theme of the plays would be focussing on the current theme of the pandemic.
"Theatre is derived from society and as currently, people are talking about the pandemic these days, we have taken the theme for the plays from the society. However, we would not only focus on COVID but other themes as well."
With regard to rehearsals, he said that all precautions are being taken such as performing rehearsals outdoors rather than indoors and wearing of masks has been made compulsory. But, "masks would need to come off as we would have to record the plays".
"It feels great to be back on stage. We have even started our rehearsals as well. It is a good initiative that has been taken to restart theatre," said Sheikh Mushtaq, a theatre artist. The artists gather for rehearsals at 4 pm on a daily basis so that all the work at home is done.
"We are trying to set up an online theatre and we gather over here for rehearsals at 4 pm so that everyone is free from their daily chores," said Shabir Hakak, another theatre artist.