BENGALURU: They are known as the cycling actors who carry their sets, props and costumes on bikes, performing Shakespeare’s plays, particularly across the United Kingdom. Bengaluru has been on the route map of HandleBards (London) for a couple of years, after they found a receptive audience here during their earlier performances in the city. They might have been here to perform even now, but the pandemic called for a change of plans. On Saturday, through their performance Romeo and Juliet, they explore Shakespeare’s characters with fun games and clips of previous live shows.
At the same time, Divyesh Bhandari, director, Imbroglio Productions, which has been bringing the troupe to Bengaluru, has been trying to help theatre practitioners who are struggling financially. “The theatre scene in the city is grim. In fact, many schools have dismissed drama teachers owing to regulated online courses. This has left them out of jobs at a time when things don’t seem bright,” he says. Bhandari is looking to raise `2-3 lakh for about 10 people who have been identified.
The 75-minute session will be streamed live, and is meant for any age group. While ticket sales used to hit 8-10,000 in the pre-Covid era, Bhandari says it is sparse now. “With OTT platforms ruling the scene, people don’t seem to be interested in theatre. We’ve bought the price to `350 from `500-600, but the response is still dim,” he says, calling it a reasonable price, since the troupe is paid in pounds.
In February, the all-girls’ team has performed As You Like It for the city’s audience, and the boys’ troupe was to come here now. “Interestingly, this is a mixed group of boys and girls who will perform, something they haven’t done previously. But now, the casting has been done based on availability,” he says. Choosing a platform was the next challenge, as the group was keen to have one where they could interact and bounce off the energy of the audience. “This wasn’t possible on Zoom, so we chose the bookmyshow platform. Here, anyone can ask a question for the troupe to answer during the performance,” he says. (The show will be live-streamed on July 18, at 6pm on bookmyshow.com)