Delhi’s theatre has recovered fully from Covid. Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” drew a record crowd at the National School of Drama recently. Over 2500 theatre lovers enjoyed watching the play at NSD’s Abhimanch over four days. All seven performances of the play were “House Full” shows.
On 29 May when the last show was to be staged, there was a “House Full” notice, as usual. This meant that a large crowd of young boys and girls had to go without watching the play.
The NSD managers decided not to disappoint them. They told them to be patient till a few minutes before the play was to start. Shortly before the bell rang, the NSD opened its gate even to those without tickets. A crowd of about a hundred theatre lovers was accommodated in the slopes and stairs of the auditorium along the seat-rows.
In the course of the play, they turned out to be among the enthusiastic cheerleaders of the show. The audience readily identified itself with Nora, the principal character, who decided to walk out of her marriage, saying she was first treated like a doll by her father, and then by her husband, and must have an independent living to discover herself.
It was a reassuring experience for the third-year NSD students who were staging the play with feminist overtones as part of their diploma curriculum. They were happy that their performance was a big success with the audience. More than this, the team behind the play realised that theatre was not forgotten in the city.
NSD faculty member Amitesh Grover, who directed the play, got an overwhelming response from the audience when he introduced the cast at the end of the play. Covid had given a big setback to stage performances.
It could not allow 300 to 400 people to sit together in an auditorium, close to each other, and enjoy a performance without the worry of catching the infection. Except for Akshara Theatre on Baba Kharak Singh Marg near the President’s Estate, Delhi’s theatre is confined to the Mandi House area for quite some time.
The All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS) theatre near Rail Bhavan stopped staging plays more than two decades ago. It was the venue of some of the best-attended theatre festivals before that. Most of the other theatres like Shri Ram Centre, Triveni Kala Sangam, Little Theatre Group, and the Kamani Auditorium are located in the Mandi House-Bengali Market area, not far from the NSD.
They resumed normal activity in the last couple of months. Courses in dramatics and theatre workshops are offered at most places. Covid had paralysed their activities. But they have recovered from that stage and have put out schedules of events in the coming months!