All the world’s a stage - Part 1
Updated: May 11
Well, yes, artistes from Komal theatre have proved that the world is really their stage. So what if theatres and the stage are off-limits for everyone right now, artistes are still keeping everyone entertained through their online productions. Komal theatres by Dharini Komal has spearheaded presenting dramas online through their YouTube series.
Adyar Times spoke with Dharini Komal to understand the dynamics of what goes into this quarantine drama web series.
So how did you come up with this idea of a web series?
Dharini: We had a long list of plays planned. So we were all very upset when the lockdown was imposed. We have nearly 15-20 artists in our troupe and all of us wanted to do something to keep our audience engaged. So we came up with doing an online series.
On what basis were the stories selected?
In general, we selected stories with 2 or 3 characters and ones that we can shoot at home. We have tried to make sure that the shots are done with an off-white/cream background because that is the common wall colour.
We have already shot a story of Komal Swaminathan, my father, - Manitha Uravugal; and a story by Sujatha - Kaalia ezhundha udan kolai; and I am writing one now myself. The stories are a Friday release. I am very pleased to see that we are getting a lot of views and there are people telling me that they are awaiting the next release.
How did you prepare for the play? How did the rehearsals happen?
On stage, we get to do a lot of rehearsals, but it was not a possibility here. So for each artiste, I wrote about the voice modulations and details about where the artiste must look - up, down, right, left, etc., in the script itself. The lines are also sequenced.
Rehearsals happen over the phone with me, where we talk about modulations etc. After these, the artists shot the scenes and with the help of the sequence, it was produced.
What were the challenges you faced?
This was a totally new concept altogether. While other theatre productions had taken videos on not to go outside during quarantine or were re-telecasting the old dramas, this was the first of its kind that was bringing out new stories. While the Manitha Uravugal was shot entirely inside the house, Kaalia ezhundha udan kolai required some outdoor shooting. So we asked the artists to shoot just around their homes.
How were the costumes managed?
All artists wore normal clothes. For specific roles, like police inspector, the actor had already played the part in one of the stage performances, so he had one; the other artist borrowed it from his neighbour, who is a police personnel. So yes, the casting was chosen based on costume availability.
How has the reaction been from the artistes?
Everyone was very happy to be active in this way. Families were involved in the shooting, because for everyone, either, the spouse or parents or siblings were taking the video. In fact, the wife of an older artiste told me that this was a learning experience for her. She had never taken a photo on a phone, and now to support her husband in this endeavour, she learnt to shoot a video!
I am planning to do something for the children also. There are many talented child artists and in this lockdown, it is so difficult for the children. So I am in talks with the parents of the child artists about it. I am also thinking of stories of writer Choodamani and T.Janakiraman.
Would you be continuing the online series after quarantine?
No. This is only till the auditorium opens up again. These are specifically for the quarantine period. Some artistes do want to continue, but then we would need professional cameras for that, so no for now.
Dharini is a resident of Sastri Nagar and can be contacted at Dharini.firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the quarantine series on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdRj5jX2diFHFEC3dTPfApA
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