Lockdown Chya Polya: A contemporary Marathi one-act play, scripted especially for online performance in post-COVID reality

Lockdown Chya Polya literally translates to flatbreads/rotis/chapati’s during lockdown. 

But don't be led astray by the title into assuming it's yet another recipe story or cooking based drama and you will be pleasantly surprised. 

Lockdown Chya Polya, a contemporary Marathi one-act play written during the lockdown is probably one of the first scripts written especially for an online performance according to the team behind it. 

The multinational production team from Singapore, USA and Ireland worked across continents and time zones for over 3 months to create this 'script to (online) stage' production.

Lockdown Chya Polya literally translates to flatbreads/rotis/chapati’s during lockdown. Poster Courtesy: MMS
Lockdown Chya Polya literally translates to flatbreads/rotis/chapati’s during lockdown. Poster Courtesy: MMS

In the post-COVID world, among the many disruptions is the one in the world of art and artists. Producers and film-makers are presenting their cultural productions to their audiences through online platforms and organisations across the world too are following suit. 

Maharashtra Mandal Singapore (MMS) is no exception and has smoothly transitioned to the new reality; is coming up with online programs under their Natyarang initiative and is setting the bar higher each time. 

Another first for MMS and perhaps in the world of Marathi drama is that it was a LIVE, unedited zoom performance, that stays true to the essence of theatre performances. 

This was brought home sharply when a discussion was held post-performance and Gautam and Geetanjali stepped right into the discussion from the home which was their set for the past one hour. 

Lockdown chy polya’s actors Gautam Marathe and Geetanjali Joshi acted naturally and effortlessly delivered the long dialogues. Photo Courtesy: Screengrab/Lockdown chya polya
Lockdown chy polya’s actors Gautam Marathe and Geetanjali Joshi acted naturally and effortlessly delivered the long dialogues. Photo Courtesy: Screengrab/Lockdown chya polya

This one-act play is essentially a dialogue between a husband (Gautam Marathe) and wife (Geetanjali Joshi) who are forced to stay apart for the longest duration in their more than three decades as a couple, due to the lockdown. 

The natural acting, wordplay, the banter, interspersed with cooking instructions and a LOUD email from their son who is graduating from a university overseas, keeps it entertaining despite its length. 

The one-hour play was followed by a live debrief session with the artists, director, writer and technical team on the process of developing the script and making of the play. This was intertwined with feedback from Marathi theatre veterans and a discussion moderated well by Yogesh Tadwalkar. 

The drama set mostly in the kitchen, boasts a multinational production team from 3 continents and time zones working together to stage it online. Photo Courtesy: Screengrab/Lockdown chya polya
The drama set mostly in the kitchen, boasts a multinational production team from 3 continents and time zones working together to stage it online. Photo Courtesy: Screengrab/Lockdown chya polya

The play had its inaugural LIVE performance for Maharashtra Mandal Singapore on 26 September 2020.

Director Swapna Mirashi and writer-actor Gautam Marathe started the development of a script, through a unique writer-director collaboration from concept through script to (online) stage performance.

Earlier they had gone through several scripts and were close to shortlisting one, but the realisation hit them that all these were written in and for a time before COVID'-19. 

The world had gone through a drastic change and a post-COVID drama needed to reflect the changing times, the duo decided. 

The actors also doubled up as camera persons and manned the multiple camera’s themselves. Photo Courtesy: Screengrab/Lockdown chya polya
The actors also doubled up as camera persons and manned the multiple camera’s themselves. Photo Courtesy: Screengrab/Lockdown chya polya

“My creative partner - writer and actor - Gautam Marathe is in Singapore, the music director was in Ireland and I was in Cincinnati”, says Swapna Mirashi when speaking of the brave attempt of a multinational team collaborating across continents and time zones to make a theatre production. 

The storyline is deceptively simple and quite linear yet gripping as it's what could be happening in your own home or in that of a neighbour living across from you. Watch the trailer here

Following the successful premiere which received very positive feedback, MMS has announced another live performance coming up on 17th October with possibly more shows at later dates. Admission to the play will be free entry upon registration.

Author
Lakshmy Iyer
Lakshmy Iyer – Senior Correspondent, ASEAN & Entertainment

Lakshmy has been contributing regularly as a freelance writer since 2012. Her writing has been an amalgamation of the language, literature and rich cultural experiences of India as well as South East Asia. An Instructional Designer by profession she is passionate about lifelong learning. Art is her medium of reflection. She participates in art exhibitions thus contributing to the local art scene and using this platform, supports social causes in Singapore as well.

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