Pandemic hit each and every person in some or the other way. Everyone from riches to rags suffered during this time. Jobs of many people were stalled while many even lost livelihood. The ‘essentials’ were being supplied but was that enough for everyone to survive while they were isolated inside their homes?
In my opinion these ‘essentials’ were not enough. Working from home for some period is tolerable but what about those whose mode of working changed completely? What about the artists? What do they do since everything they did is now available online for free? How do they feel about this? How are they resuming work? how is working with a new platform treating them?…
Many such questions were talked about in the ‘Conversation Series @ The Vessel’. The series comprised of 5 sessions with three artists each from different backgrounds ranging from teachers/educators to old practitioners. The most talked about topic was how pandemic affected them and their work. Since the artists were from different backgrounds the range of experiences and perspectives grew larger.
People not only lost livelihood due to the lockdowns but also lost their loved ones to the virus. Due to so much happening at the same time everyone was quite overwhelmed. There was no way to let these feeling out of your system. The escape for an artist during such times is practicing his/her art which was not happening due to the lockdown imposed confinement in the houses. This was major concern for a lot of people. Another big step was mediatization of art. With everything going to the online mode, people had access to various sources of entertainment for free which is again a problem to the artists. Even the people behind the stage were in a state of trouble due to this mediatization as they lost their jobs. This certainly questions the definition of ‘essentials’. Why is theater not essential? In my opinion, it should be, because eventually people do want entertainment, just the medium has changed.
This change in medium has also been a boon to some. A lot of people chose this for new explorations and expansion to reach larger audiences. Even old videos/documentation of acts were used as new content since people ran out of new content. But do we call it a performance; because it is a mere documentation. And if we call it a performance what does a performance actually comprise of? Isn’t it about the art and artist rather than the audience coming to watch it?
There have also been a lot of artists who were working on productions and pieces that were left stalled for two years and now that everything has opened, physical form of production is not much a necessity. This too has caused losses to masses.
It is a sad how pandemic brought so many changes, mostly negative but also inspiring how people fought these difficult times and grew stronger than ever. However, there still is a need for people to talk and address lives of artists and transition of theater pre, during and now post pandemic. I might not have a clear answer for a few of the questions but these question arise and need to be addressed.