With cultural activities in the ‘cultural capital’ of the country on a complete stand-still for the past four months due to closure of all auditoria, theatres and galleries, a local woman artist has taken an imaginative initiative, though on a modest scale, to give her community an opportunity to perform in public .
She has built a Box Theatre on the terrace of her house in Naya Basera, Kotra Sultananbad. Bishna Chouhan, the artist behind the idea, told Free Press said that online performances, Facebook Live et al are okay. “But artistes do not get satisfaction unless we perform on a real stage and before a real audience,” she said.
And that is precisely the idea behind the ‘Box Theatre’, which Bishna has named after her Guru, theatre personality Alakhnandan. The Theatre can accommodate 15-20 people but to maintain social distancing, not more than eight people would be invited. The performances would be live-streamed on social media platforms simultaneously.
She plans to hold three performances of 20 minutes each in a day. “It is a small place, suited to solo performances, including poetry and song recitals, one-act plays and question-answer sessions,” she said.
The facility would be available free of cost to all artistes. “All they will be required to do is to inform me a day in advance. I will publicise the event but the responsibility of inviting people to attend would be that of the organiser,” she said.
Wearing masks would be compulsory for the audience as well as the performers.
The Theatre has two walls – one black and the other covered with Madhubani paintings. “Devendra Sharma Joshi who has designed the place and Abhiskeh Gawande, who is making the paintings, are not charging a penny from me,” she said.
“It is my way of returning something to society,” said the artist, who is in the field of theatre for last 24 years. She was a part of Rangmandal, the theatre repertory of Bharat Bhavan and was also a member of Nat Bundle, the theatre group of Alakhnandan. She now runs her own theatre group called Sagar Guncha.
The entire expenditure on the Theatre has been borne by Bishna. “I had to take loans from my friends. I am not seeking funds from anyone,” she said, adding that the Theatre would be inaugurated later this month.
Platform for children
Bishna Chouhan is planning to provide children a platform for showcasing their creative talents. She would be holding ‘Bal Sabha’ every Saturday. “Children will be able to show their paintings, sing a song or recite a poem on the stage,” she said. Sudesh Vankhede, a musician, will train kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She had organised a 50-day theatre workshop for children of 5-16 years age group during the corona lockdown. “Since the end of the workshop, the children were pestering me to continue to teach them. Their parents were also happy as it ensured that the children kept away from TV and mobile phones for at least two hours every day,” she said. Besides acting, now she also plans to introduce children to basics of Natyashastra.