Neelam Mansing’s play ‘Black Box’ will be presented virtually

But the director hopes that theatre can get back on to the proscenium as every play thrives on the audience applause

Neelam Mansignh Chowdhry’s play Black Box, will be staged digitally. The play, presented by the Chandigarh-based The Company, is a part of Ranga Shankara’s ‘Staged@RS’ (a digital streaming programme. It can be viewed from December 4 to 10 at 7.30 pm.

Black Box will be Ranga Shankara’s second play under ‘Staged@RS’ project. Directed by Neelam, it features actor Vansh Bhardwaj in a solo performance.

The thespian talks to MetroPlus about theatre during the times of COVID-19 and also about what it means to present theatre on a digital platform.

Neelam Mansing’s play ‘Black Box’ will be presented virtually

Edited excerpts

What is Black box all about?

Black Box was born as a response to the nationwide lockdown imposed by the pandemic, which has spared none. The play explores the idea of being incarcerated, the helplessness that it leads to. A collaboration between Vansh and me resulted in Black Box which explores the effects of COVID-19 on our lives — it talks about loneliness, of being home alone, the desperation to reach out, to speak, to connect and so on.

Why have you said the play will be presented in the hues of black and white?

Making the play in black and white has nothing to do with the name Black Box. It is more to portray the feelings of what happens and the emotions that one deals with in isolation.

How do you feel about taking theatre to the digital space?

Digital is in today. I, however, call myself a technological refugee. Being on the proscenium for years and thriving in the midst of the audience’ reaction can never be replaced. For the moment digital is good for me, but I do hope we go back to the stage soon.

Black Box is not a film. Nor was it created to be filmed, because then it becomes a documentary. Black Box was created for the proscenium, and is captured on the camera as it would be staged. It will have all the elements of theatre in it for it is a play, which is being presented digitally.

What are the challenges the performing arts has faced due to the pandemic?

It has been very challenging financially, emotionally and creatively. I believe it is not just theatre, but cinema and every other profession that has been affected by this. It has taken our social gatherings and sense of touch and intimacy from us; all of these form the very essence of theatre. For we believe that a play is as good as the audience’ response.

With the state of the performing arts today, do you see the next generation of legends being created?

Today’s youth is not only tech-savvy, but also creative. Sadly, I feel we live in a time of irreverence. Today we are always pulling the other down. Tell me how can one get creative or build legends when we are not given the freedom to think, eat or live as we like?

Your views on working with Vansh…

He is an intelligent actor and I have been working with him since 2003. He knows my style and understands what I want him to bring out emotionally on the stage.

He also has this unique way of bringing an image or an emotion into reality, which I find fascinating.

Black Box will also be made available to international audiences. Details will be available on in.bookmyshow.com. Tickets, priced at ₹200, will be available on BookMyShow.


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