Kolkata: A bunch of theatre enthusiasts in Kolkata, Bengaluru, Gurugram and Tampa (Florida) turned a popular webinar application into a virtual stage across geographic bounds for a spectacular digital adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap– The Trap.
Though the all women cast of 16 performed in isolation — in screen slots provided to the actors — one could feel the flow of the storyline through the digital theatre that bridged the separation occasioned by the Coronavirus.
“With the pandemic making it impossible to curate theatre performances or conduct acting workshops, we thought of going the digital way. Keeping in tandem with the age-old adage The Show Must Go On, we went digital,” said Tathagatha Chowdhury, founder of The Theatrician.
“Well, the purist has not liked it, as digital performance lacks the physical presence of a stage,” Chowdhury admitted candidly. “But yes, the youngsters have liked this transition,” said of the play he directed from quarantine in Gurgram using new age tools.
Asked about why there were no men in the cast, he laughed. “Well, this show is a culmination of an online acting class that we conducted during the lockdown. Interestingly, all the applicants were women, so here we had an all-women play on offer,” he said.
So, how difficult is it for the actors to act their parts without having to face co-actors?
“Well, it’s a bit difficult, initially, but once you get to understand how it works, it becomes easier for the actors,” answered Anshu Daga, one of the actors. She explained that the digital stage experience was unusual but inevitable. “This virtual stage definitely makes it interesting for the artists to give live performances without really being present on stage.”
“The better the online rehearsal, the better will be the performance on the digital stage. However, I believe it’s not the core skills that challenge such performances but the dependency on internet connectivity and a lot more that goes on at the digital backstage,” said Daga.
Nandita Gangwal, curator of the online shows of the Theatrician, couldn’t agree more.
“Time planning and having a backup is the key for such performance. The age-old rule of trusting co-actors and production unit also plays a major role in delivering online performance. But if you are asking how we handle glitches, well, for that we try having backups and better internet connectivity,” she said
Reacting to the new experience, actor Madhurima Gupta, said, “ Virtual theatre is a different ball game, where the actors and the backstage team need to follow the golden rule of theatre – the voice must not drop.”