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Silver lining: Covid pandemic pushes theatre artistes in Punjab to explore digital space


Neha Saini

Tribune news service

Amritsar, June 26

It is not for the first time that the theatre has been faced with an existential crisis. As the Covid-19 lockdown wreaks havoc, the theatre fraternity is hopeful that this too will pass.

Taking the pandemic in their stride, senior theatre professionals from the city are now switching to digital platforms to keep the theatre and performing arts discourse alive and kicking. Online performances, live streaming of plays and group enactment through various digital media are becoming the new normal.

“Though it was difficult to sustain these times, yet theatre has managed to combat this phase. Most artistes are now conducting online sessions and performances. The artistes have come out of their conventional roles as live performances became a thing of past. All this might be new for us, but it is not necessarily bad,” shares Arvinder Chamak, a senior painter and performing artist.

Chamak, who is also the general secretary of the Indian Academy of Fine Arts has been conducting online sessions on arts and theatrical culture, featuring Indian and Pakistani artistes and audience throughout lockdown.

Taking the storytelling through drama and arts to digital space, many city-based artistes have already live-streamed their performances online. These include Gurinder Makana, a senior actor and director. Makana staged the acclaimed story Ram Gau, picked up from anthology that was once directed by Kewal Dhaliwal for the stage.

“The only difference is that you have to improvise a lot and make use of lesser props and also use yourself more expressively, to give an engaging performance. Even the audience understands the constraints of digital performance, so, it is not an impossible task to achieve,” says Makana. He adds that the pandemic has somehow pushed artistes to explore the digital medium that has a larger reach,” he says.


Suvidha Duggal is another young artiste who has been busy with online theatre. “As a creative person, I have found my own ways to turn this into an opportunity. I have been performing solo plays online. Scripts need to undergo changes to adapt to digital space.”

Speaking out

Arvinder Chamak, painter and performing artiste

The pandemic has opened new horizons by giving more of a virtual space for showcasing talent and feel the pain of the humanity. This new normal has opened gates for artistes from different nations. — Arvinder Chamak, painter and performing artiste

Digital space for theatre arts has to be explored for creative and commercial aspects. I have been developing a digital space where we can support artistes to give solo live performances. — Gurinder Makana, actor and director

Suvidha Duggal, theatre artiste

I have been uploading short videos of my performances on social media platforms and digital space. Artistes and audiences both need to shift to digital space to keep the theatre experience alive. — Suvidha Duggal, theatre artiste

Kewal Dhaliwal, president, Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi

We need to create a digital platform for audio-video performances, live streaming and online discussions where experts like Bansi Kaul, Surjit Patar interact with audience. — Kewal Dhaliwal, president, Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi


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