The Department of Language and Culture, Telangana Government, has made the best use of the lockdown period by offering theatre lovers and practitioners a chance to watch Telugu plays from the confines of their homes. Started on May 12, the Telangana Online Theatre Festival brought stories to life through fine performances and will be on view till May 28.
The department’s online buzz continues with National Theatre Festival screening Assamese, Manipuri and Kannada plays.
“In the COVID-19 times, we have shifted our attention from convention style performances to digital platform,” shares Mamidi Harikrishna, the department’s director. Under his guidance, Ramesh Kishan Goud of Telangana Theatre and Media Repertory came up with an idea to stage Telugu plays on the digital platform.
A thing to note is that these are not new productions but plays which have been staged earlier. Ramesh Kishan Goud explains, “I have bought two software — Gostream.com and CameraFI Live to stage plays. Since we cannot live stream beyond 40 minutes, we have divided the play into three parts. I share a link with my social media contacts which when clicked, leads to the play. This gives the Live effect as if the play is happening right now. Each play is streamed for three days.”
Also, these plays have been chosen from Ramesh Kishan’s production-oriented theatre workshops for budding theatre artistes. The productions include: Modugu Poolu (Dasaradhi Rangacharya’s novel adapted into theatre), Gangu , Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq , Dayyala Kompa (Roman play) and padya natakam Shri Krishna Rayabharam (May 28).
With a theatre arts degree from Hyderabad Central University, Ramesh had also worked as a dramatics teacher in Oakridge International School before he quit to start Telangana Theatre and Media Repertory. He observes, “These virtual shows have given us ideas to create opportunities. We can follow physical distancing and stage a Telugu play with six artistes and two technicians. We don’t have to worry about the audience as we can now show it online.”
Hari Krishna says, “We usually have around 500 people to watch a play in Ravindra Bharathi but we have more than 3000 audiences on the digital platform watching Telugu plays from across India and the world. The response is amazing,” enthuses Hari Krishna, who plans to take it forward with his mission ‘3T’, which he explains as tradition, trend and technology. “The first T is tradition which we have to take it to the next generation, the second T is Trend; We have to create a trend with cultural programmes and the third T is to use technology to promote culture, arts and performance.”
The department has added a feather in its cap with its online music and dance classes. “It is a first-of its kind initiative in the country that government-run music institutions are offering digital classes. COVID-19 has led us to find new paths,” he says adding he has plans to organise a digital folk festival too. “The artiste can perform Oggu Katha in his home in Jangaon, Warangal and can be viewed by Telugu folk lovers from anywhere in the world. Virtual shows are an opportunity to spread Telugu and its folk arts.”
(To watch the play, WhatsApp 9247 14 0023 for an online link)