The Stage Comes Alive Once Again!

– Reopening this February, the NCPA is ready to welcome audiences back with a fine array of performances and safety measures in place –

 Even the momentary silence of a bare-looking stage could be overwhelming, remedied by the tuning of the violin or ghunghroo-clad ankles scurrying backstage. That this silence was to last for nearly a year, wasn’t something any cultural organization across the world could have anticipated. But it did, taking away the joy of live performances in one fell swoop and leaving art lovers famished.

After an unprecedented health, financial and social crisis, as Covid cases seem to stabilise in India and life restart with a new normal, the grand Tata Theatre will resound once again with Vivaldi, Mozart and Tchaikovsky classics on February 3, marking the reopening of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai. The fine array of classical concerts, recitals, plays, dance performances, stand-up shows and screenings scheduled for February, and the coming months, will be organised in complete adherence with Standard Operating Procedures laid down by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai in, addition to the NCPA’s own precautionary measures for hygiene and social distancing. The theatres will function at no more than 50 per cent occupancy.

“The NCPA programming has always been a blend of performances by the finest international and local talent. With ever-evolving lockdown rules and travel restrictions, the focus will be on curating high-quality performances featuring local artistes and concerts by our resident musicians of the SOI Chamber Orchestra,” says Mr. Khushroo N. Suntook, Chairman, NCPA. “I believe the way forward would be to mould these events into festive occasions as far as the restrictions will allow. Here, our centre lends itself to splendid opportunities with imaginative use of our open-air spaces for suitable performances. The difference somewhat from our normal fare will be the name of the game. This does not mean we will stray from the path of offering the best form of classical and contemporary performances, but will suitably adapt them.”

In addition to the valiant attempts to return to incomparable live performances, the near future belongs to creating the best possible platforms for live streaming. While the theatres were shut under lockdown, work had already begun on quality broadcasting of NCPA’s archival and new performances, an area in which significant progress had been made. NCPA@home – the organisation’s digital broadcast series of curated performances from across genres, was among the first in the country to be rolled out, within days of the lockdown announcement. What started as a way of keeping members culturally engaged, went on to reach new audiences beyond India and formed a virtual community of connoisseurs, separated by distance but united in their love of Art.

It is art and its ready availability through treasure troves such as these, that brought solace to troubled minds grappling with a global upheaval. As we now soldier on in our masked lives, music, dance and theatre are back in their live glory, all set to leave us enraptured. The theatres await their audiences…

(By Snigdha Hasan)


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