Hyderabad: For every performer, the stage means everything. Regardless of the art form, a performer always lives for and strives hard for the duration between the moment the heat of the spotlight hits them to the time the curtain drops, practically spending the rest of their waking moments preparing for the same. Year 2020 affected performers in a way that was never seen before.
Months after the Unlock, the restrictions on performances have also stopped and over the past one month or so, singers, theatre actors, dancers, etc are slowly getting back to their stage and needless to say, it has made them experience a wide range of emotions, the primary one is excitement, as Deepti Girotra, a theatre artiste from the city says, “I was itching for a performance and when I got the opportunity to perform, I was very excited and it was also fast-paced as we got to know about it just a week before the performance.”
Ratika Sant Keswani, who acted alongside her in the Sutradhar production ‘Ismat Ek Aurat’, last month says, “I jumped at the opportunity to perform as I hadn’t done it in months. I also felt grateful that I could have one performance before 2020 ended, though we had only a week’s notice to handle rehearsals and the back-stage production.” She adds, “getting onto the stage after such a long time felt like being back home.”
For both Ratika and Deepti, getting back to stage after a long gap was not an alien experience at all. Adds Deepti, “It was like a fish getting back into water after being thrown on land.”
The vibes of the audience and the aura of the stage, makes every performer feel their worth and according to Patruni Sastry, a drag artiste from the city, that was much missed during the lockdown. “The online performances that I was doing always made me feel as if I was on an office call. I could never connect to my audiences when I was performing online. For me, performing was always an outlet and performances were my breathers in life as I work for a software company otherwise. When I first got back onto stage in December, I saw the audience and I got the confidence that I had lost,” says Sastry.
Ratika shares, “The minute I felt the heat of the light on my face when I walked back onto the stage, I felt alive.”
For some, like the city-based Kuchipudi dancer and dance teacher Sravya Manasa, performing was a major motivating factor which was lost during the lockdown. “For someone used to having at least 10 shows a month, the lockdown was as if someone forcefully told me to stop dancing,” she says, adding, “I was always a travelling performer and I missed seeing the new audience at different places and the vibes. Getting back truly made me a dancer again.”
These artistes proved their expertise in pulling off performances at a short notice. “I was not in proper form and I had to physically get back to performing. I also had to arrange costumes, choreography and all within a short span, and adhering to anti-Covid precautions at that,” says Sravya.
An aspect that was borderline worrisome was the obvious Covid-19 precautions they all had to take, which limited and restricted their pre-performance activities in addition to the potential low turnout of the audience. Sravya explains, “We had to take that one extra step of care every time. I got myself tested before the rehearsals began and before the performance, so my students are safe. We also didn’t let parents come into the green rooms as we couldn’t even wear masks with the makeup on or use a sanitiser with the ‘paarani’ on. We had to be careful.”
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