It seems that spring has finally arrived for the theatre culture in Hyderabad after a long gap necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The galleries and venues which witnessed eerie silences for over a year now are seeing loud cheers and applause again as the theatre folk and audiences are returning to the spaces.
Earlier this month, state run Ravindra Bharati, a popular auditorium, witnessed an almost housefull audience for two shows of â€˜Asamarthuduâ€™, a play by Mercy Margaret and Ajay MakenApallI. Other spaces, such as Rangabhumi, Lamakan, Our Sacred Space and Phoenix Arena, are also seeing a steady footfall of theatre enthusiasts and new age storytellers who are coming out with a diversity of stories and formats.
Asamarthudu (meaning â€˜incompetentâ€™), which tells the story of a carefree, rich man who loses the woman he loves due to his pride and arrogance, is adapted from a Kahmiri folk story. The show, which earned critical acclaim from critics and literary figures, was dramatised by Mercy and directed by Ajay Makenapalli. It has a cast of around 50 artists on and off screen. Asamarthudu was sponsored by the Language and Culture department of the Telangana government under the supervision of its Director, Mamidi Harikrishna.
Speaking to TNM about the theatre finding its place again now, Mercy said, "Perhaps the show was the first one to attract such a massive crowd in recent times. Theatre is not yet bygone but can thrive if we come up with more creative and relevant stories. People will definitely watch." She added that it was heartening to see new age artists and audiences.
Director Ajay Makenapalli said, "Artists who are aspiring to venture into films are choosing the theatre field too. This is a good phenomenon for theatre arts as it will bring in diverse plays and writers." Besides graduates from theatre and arts departments in Hyderabad Central University, Nizam College and Telugu universities, several artists who want to make it to the big screen are also investing in acting in the theatre arts, performances.
Shaik John Basheer, a theatre artist and play director, said that theatre is seeing good reception from the audience now, compared to pre-pandemic, owing to different reasons. "After almost one-and-half-year of being limited to small screens at home, people are venturing out more to see live performances. It is encouraging to see a variety of age groups among audiences for Telugu and other language shows."
Recently, a couple of shows of New Bombay Tailors (written by Mohammed Khadeer Babu) and The Renowned Nose (written by Vaiko Mohammed Basheer) were performed at Rangbhoomi Spaces under the direction of Basheer. Both the plays received favourable responses from the audience as well as critics.
Other spaces and artists are also anticipating new scripts with topical themes to embrace the blooming theatre scene of Hyderabad.