The pandemic 2020 and Cyber performing
Directing Cyber theatre
The pandemic and the lockdowns brought it on. Social distancing had to be preserved and going to theatre like in the ‘old times’ became an impossibility They gave Sanjay and the pandies a reputation of being masters of this genre. For somebody whose life has been based on outreach, teaching, workshops and theatre, the pandemic could have been and was at least to begin a deadening experience for Sanjay. And then it started the move to connect, narratives of the pandemic, to stories, to plays. Politically charged theatre that defied the suppressive currents of the time. He explored radical theatre traditions with a growing audience. Not just plays but movements and traditions that lie buried under the debris of capitalism and patriarchy. The possibilities are unlimited. The second show of the first play garnered 7000 viewers on a live Facebook streaming.
Clifford Odets’ Till the Day I Die (2020) June
And why Odets? Why Till the Day I Die? It is an agit prop play. Coming from 1930s America, the growing belly of the capitalist tiger. And it condemns Nazi violence.
Taking this one on zoom webinar was a real challenge. The entire cast imprisoned in their frames and the director and the tech team in theirs. An intense in your face notion of LIVE Theatre came alive.
Set in Germany, it pertained as much to the McArthy government. And the challenge for Sanjay was to sketch the relevance of this play and its critique for all fascisms – historical and more important contemporary.
Ernst’s story with its heroism and sell outs, appeared a desperate and hopeful attempt in its obvious defeat.
Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal (2020) September
Live and online
The second offering was directing a live, online production of Sophie Treadwell’s MACHINAL. This play was a continuation of the pandies endeavour of unearthing radical movements and traditions that lie beneath the debris of capitalism and patriarchy. Sophie Treadwell’s MACHINAL was premiered in Broadway in 1928, in the wake of women getting the right to vote in America and parts of the western world and at the kerb of the Great Depression. Presenting the story of a woman in contemporary America, the play presents a scathing critique of contemporary capitalism for putting even the most intimate relationships on an economic footing.
Focused on that difficult to empathise with, difficult to justify, even understand protagonist, Helen, the performance really disturbs. It does not give or seek solutions and plunges us into the dark depths of patriarchy and masculinity. Are not easy solutions and enabling protagonists hall marks of the accord between patriarchy and capitalism? Labelled expressionist and modernist earlier, the play is now seen as a prototype of Western feminist theatre. The directorial attempt was to highlight the feminist, radical aspect of the production showing its relevance for all patriarchies, especially the contemporary ones.
Sanjay was curating and presenting rather than directing these endeavours.
Home and the World: Story-telling in the times of Corona (2020)
29th November. Half a day festival of stories. 15 stories, brilliant story-tellers all. No recordings, a live zoom interaction between the Artists and their Audience.
Art of story telling from the fringes; Story tellers from zones of hardship, made harder by the pandemic: Young Friends seeking refuge from Afghanistan, women survivors of violence supported by the women’s organisation Shakti Shalini and young migrant voices from Nithari village(our artists are friends, siblings, neighbours of the victims of 2006-7 pogrom and have been creating with us since), on a downward spiral of penury.
Yes they can all still laugh, sing, narrate and entertain.
It’s a pandies endeavour to be one with them. To appreciate the power of Art shunning the distress and misery that surrounds us.
For the preceding year, pandies’ members workshopped among themselves over many issues, getting those political juices moving.
Nuanced, challenging and explorative, FLUIDENTITIES presented a series of workshop presentations on LGBTQIA+ themes.
Stories and Shorts.