• Kaivalya Plays

Telegraph India: Grudgingly, Theatre Explores Online Stage

We're delighted to share our latest work in the digital space was featured in today's edition of The Telegraph! We thank Pheroze L. Vincent for his kind words.

Here is a short excerpt from the piece, where our Artistic Director shares about the process of creating How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found, a digital production rehearsed, performed and recorded entirely on Zoom. (You can stream the play here.)

Varoon P. Anand, a 40-year-old Spanish teacher who focuses on shorter, and more contemporary forms of theatre, was supposed to stage Fin Kennedy’s How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found in mid-March, when curbs on gatherings were imposed in the capital in view of the pandemic.


“We have this motto that the show must go on. But what do you do when venues shut…. We are told in the theatre community that digital work is not theatre, but how could I not continue my work for those who define their lives on the basis of this work?” he says.


Anand, whose Spanish classes at the Instituto Cervantes had to switch to the Zoom app, began to experiment with the video medium for theatre. “We do mental health workshops through improvisation — acting, performing, et cetera. People who come to mental health workshops come because they feel they are not in a safe place. You can’t tell them, sorry lockdown…


“The workshops that used to have 25 people now have 80. There is far more control on how to conduct the workshop, some can be removed if they are disruptive, and participants can decide how they want to involve themselves — whether they want to be visible or not,” he explains.


On May 4, Anand’s group Kaivalya Plays screened Kennedy’s play on their website. The performance was entirely recorded on Zoom. For another play, screened on Instagram, Anand and his co-actor staged it in different rooms of their homes, costume changes, et al.

Anand says he and his group learnt from their mistakes and only got better. “The initial work was not great, he says. “By making 10 mistakes, we can now make something that people enjoy. Kaivalya is now offering fellowship in theatre management, too, online.”

The biggest challenge is the stigma actors face. “Many actors come to theatre as an escape. Our lead actor was very uncomfortable as his parents were yelling at him during rehearsals. He had to join a coaching class for MBA to convince his parents that he isn’t wasting time doing something silly. Working from home is not easy in a society when many are deeply uncomfortable seeing someone do theatre, and many don’t have the luxury of space in their homes,” Anand says.

Read the full article on the Telegraph India website here.
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