With no new shows, curtains still down at drama spaces

With no new shows, curtains still down at drama spaces

Allowed to reopen from Monday, they are waiting for theatre groups and audiences to return

Prabhbath Auditoriums, with halls in Basavanagudi and Basaweshwara Nagar, will be continuing with online performances for some time before venturing back into offline shows.

Performing spaces were allowed to reopen on Monday with 50% seating, but not much is happening yet on the theatre front.

Arundathi Nag, actor and founder of Ranga Shankara, is taking a staggered approach to the reopening.

“We will take a week or so to begin operations. We have to check with the theatre community if they are ready to get back on stage,” she says.

Ranga Shankara, an iconic theatre space located in JP Nagar, plans to begin with free events in the foyer.

“The theatre community got together and did two months of theatre after the first lockdown, so hopefully we will get back to doing the same soon,” she says.

Varshini Vijay, founder of Prabhbath Auditoriums, with halls in Basavanagudi and Basaweshwara Nagar, is continuing with online performances for some more time.

“The restrictions have affected the theatre community. Even with 100% capacity, it is going to take us at least six months to float above water,” she says. Prabhbath plans to function only at 25-30% capacity and have the same shows both online and offline.

Parthasarathi S, freelance lighting designer and production manager, says technicians will continue to have a hard time.

“Small events like reading and jamming sessions don’t call for technicians like us. Even if technicians are required, the organisers would prefer in-house ones to cut down on the costs,” he says. 

Vinay Shastry, director and one of the founders of VASP Theatre, is excited about getting back on stage.

“Coming up with new productions will be a challenge, and we may not do anything new for a few more months as a third wave of Covid-19 has been predicted,” he says.

Keerthi Bhanu, actor and member of the 33 year-old Sanchaya theatre group, says, “Not all shows are house-full, so the 50% capacity will not affect collections.”

Increasing ticket rates and reducing hall rents may not be the way forward. The focus should be towards getting bigger audiences, he says.

“We must do productions that leave the audience with a smile at the end of the show as they have been through a very dark phase,” he says. 

Cinema halls remain empty

Movie exhibitors in Karnataka may start functioning only two weeks from now, although they are free now to start with 50 per cent occupancy. Screening of many big films, including Puneeth Rajkumar’s ‘Yuvarathnaa,’ was suspended when a lockdown was announced on April 27 in the wake of the second wave. “Producers might not re-release films that hit the screens just before the second wave,” says K V Chandrashekar, chairperson of Karnataka Film Exhibitors Association.

Theatre owners are also waiting for the release of non-Kannada films. “The lockdown hasn’t been lifted in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. So there is no clarity on the release of Tamil and Malayalam films. In Andhra and Telangana, exhibitors want to increase ticket prices. They need government approval for that. Considering these developments, it looks like theatres will remain empty for the next two weeks in Karnataka,” he told Metrolife. 

Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce president Jairaj says producers of
films waiting in the pipeline haven’t announced release dates yet. Producers of big-budget Kannada films have repeatedly said they will release their films only when 100 per cent occupancy is allowed in theatres. 


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