Natrang Jammu’s Quarantine Theatre Festival


Mohd. Yaseen
In this period of crisis, when the whole world is in gloom because of the loss of so many precious lives due to Corona Virus, everyone is contributing his/her bit for healing the world, be it healthcare professionals or forces, be it media personnel or volunteers, everybody is fighting hard to throw Corona Virus out from the society.
Exhibiting solidarity towards this cause, Natrang started a unique online theatre festival entitled ‘Quarantine Theatre Festival’ featuring plays of different languages, genres and directed by different directors of Natrang. The festival was started on 9th April with the mission to reach the audience globally through social media with the best of Natrang’s archival plays. At the time of social-distancing because of COVID 19 outbreak, online theatre is the only possible and safest way thus it received tremendous response from the audience worldwide which was opened with Internationally acclaimed Dogri play Ghumayee followed by the plays of Prem Chand, Gulzar, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Moilere, Vaclav Havel, Munshi Premchand, Dario Fo, Shankar Shesh and Balwant Thakur which were directed by Balwant Thakur, Ranesh Gupta, Neeraj Kant, Adil Hussain, Harish Khanna, Sanjeev Gupta, Sumeet Sharma, Rahul Singh and Aarushi Thakur Rana. On the other hand viewers from all over the globe applauding the initiative of Natrang in which a viewer from African continent Joseph Antony commented that in these times of confinement Natrang has provided a wonderful opportunity to witness best of the theatre being practiced in India. At a time when social media is full of unusual irrelevant stuff this initiative of Natrang is praiseworthy, providing viewers an opportunity to view highly meaningful intellectually stimulating theatre productions.
Due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic, the residents of Jammu along with the rest of the country are living under a lock down and this is to a tee to flourish theatre and a best way to reach to the masses. One theatre play can get 400 to 500 audiences but online presentations of theatrical plays can get numerous audiences and one can easily learn from it too. Natrang has always pioneered in innovating new ways of reaching people. They always try to engage the masses for the art of theatre and this unique idea has kept people intact. Rather than inviting audience for theatre, Natrang has taken theatre to them keeping in view of pandemic and the norms of social distancing. To run such a festival for so many days requires a vast collection of quality work which was once appreciated by live audience only then it qualifies to be showcased to the worldwide audience through internet.

Quarantine Theatre Festival of Natrang was aimed at taking meaningful theatre into the screens of the global audience during this phase of social distancing. The festival featured 25 plays in 25 days which were directed by different directors of Natrang who have attained the landmark with their creative ways of doing theatre. The festival was highly successful and will be available on You Tube till long. It marks a huge step for theatre loving audiences whose numbers are on the rise as one can watch these extremely socially and politically relevant plays at a time of your choosing when you are tired of the usual tough office regime or feeling down. The initiative of online festival focuses on the big names of Jammu theatre too who have been working in theatre since last 35 years.
Sharing his views, Balwant Thakur, Director Natrang who is currently in Johannesburg as the Cultural Diplomat of India at South Africa, shares that Theatres around the world are closed and are facing devastating impact from the lock down. Considered to be the most positive activity in these turbulent times, Natrang has organized a festival of best of the plays for the theatre lovers sitting in the entire length and breadth of the world. It has not only connected us with the audience’s world over but also gave us the right occasion to promote our language and Culture Internationally I am not only sure but confident that this initiative of Natrang Jammu will receive overwhelming response and appreciation. While sitting here in South Africa I will also contribute my bit in promoting this initiative in African continent. Artists usually avoid to share their work in public domain for obvious reasons but in this contest, Natrang has shown a larger heart in throwing the entire collection of its works for public viewing with any expectation of returns. End of the day we as an organisation has the satisfaction that we have been able to contribute our share of creativity and positivity to the public in these hours of critical times.
Since this grave crisis has come into existence everybody is in panic and afraid of their lives and we need only determination and patience to fight with it. Sit at home and act, write and direct by using digital platform and stay in touch with your community, the day will definitely come when all the artists will be together again.