The theatre scene in Bangladesh has never lacked its share of enthusiasts but like everything else was forced to bite the dust once the pandemic arrived and the country went into lockdown mode. Good news awaits however, as theatres are expected to get permission to stage shows once again, according to Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation’s Secretary General Kamal Bayazid.
In an interview with UNB on Sunday, he explained the plans and upcoming work schedules for reopening the theatre activities in the National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
“Seeking permission to restart theatre activities for our beloved audiences and theatre oriented activists, we have pleaded with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs via a letter on August 17 and the State Minister agreed to our request, so hopefully we will be hearing some good news this week,” Bayazid told UNB.
He added, “Following the order of the ministry, BSA (Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy) is now preparing a guideline to regulate and monitor the activities that would be going forward in the upcoming days.”
According to Bayazid, the National Theatre Hall has a total of 6 rehearsal rooms where up to 12 theatre teams can practice for 3 or 4 hours each. Those rooms have not been utilized since the beginning of the lockdown, and the theatre troops have been seeking permission to start rehearsal again before eventually performing in front of the audience.
He added that the troupes who have their own rehearsal arrangements in other locations have already started rehearsals and are even showcasing plays, such as Prachayanat’s ongoing drama festival at its own venue in the capital’s Katabon for a very limited number of audiences.
Speaking of the audience for the upcoming proposed shows, Bayazid said, “The National Theatre Hall at BSA has a total of 750 seats. As we are well aware of the ongoing necessity of adequate social distancing, we have proposed to host a total of 1/3rd of its total capacity – meaning 250 people in special seating arrangements for the shows, once we get ready to host a possible drama festival in near future. As soon as BSA opens the rehearsal rooms, we would be rehearsing for the plays with a minimum number of performers, ensuring the safety for both the theatre team and the audiences.”
“This drama festival is going to be arranged by Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation in association with other theatre teams and drama organisations. To honour the COVID-19 frontliners such as police, doctors-nurses, journalists and other professionals who have relentlessly been working in this crisis situation – we would like to invite them as special guests in this festival as a token of appreciation and gratitude,” Bayazid told UNB.
Explaining the necessity of reopening the theatre activities, he further stated – “We really need to have this resurgence of theatre as soon as possible, because the people are in dire need of healthy entertainment. Theatre plays cannot be labelled only as entertainment – these narrate proper storytelling and provide a greater experience to the audiences than any other medium. Without the regular activities for this long, people especially the youths are getting distracted, getting engaged in unhealthy social activities, even committing crimes. We need to reopen not only for our survival but also to bring back the healthy entertainment – by maintaining the adequate health guidelines, of course.”
The theatre scene has been in lockdown mode since March and BSA had immediately cancelled all the shows and rehearsals until further notice. This has been a truly unfortunate year for this medium, in contrast to last year which witnessed tantalizing drama festivals throughout the entire year.
Source: United News of Bangladesh