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Covid call 

Theatre practitioner Abhishek Iyengar whose team has turned Covid volunteers, tells CE why plays and writing have taken a backseat for the moment

Published: 13th May 2021 01:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th May 2021 01:53 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: In the lockdown of 2020, Abhishek Iyengar was busy figuring how theatre could take the virtual route. Days were spent with fellow theatre artistes discussing and debating stories and ideas that would work for dramas staged from the living room. Cut to 2021, much of that has changed. While the lockdown scenario remains the same-- creating a sense of deja-vu-- this time Iyengar and his other WeMove Theatre group members have turned Covid volunteers. “The second wave of the pandemic is different. It has hit close to home with many in the younger age group being severely affected.

With so much fear, viewers are really not in the mood for mirth. Neither are we,” says the founder of WeMove Theatre, a 15-year-old company. It started with random calls, requesting for beds, oxygen and medicines. Spotting the dearth of verified sources, Iyeng ar started using his theatre WhatsApp group and website to help those in distress.

Now, they have about 150 volunteers from across Karnataka, with a ready reckoner of details, including plasma, oxygen, meals (based on various preferences), do’s and don’ts for mild cases, amongst a whole host of resources. All of this didn’t happen overnight. From just a handful of volunteers to now a group comprising people from different professions, the initial initiative has come a long way. “Sometimes we’d have some numbers of oxygen cylinders, but it would turn out to be a welder’s contact.

Once we started clearing the clutter, we realised that it wasn’t enough to just organise oxygen because it wouldn’t come with a pipe or mask...that required a different contact. Sorting of all of this has been quite a challenge,” he says. Even as they have struggled with all of this, Iyengar admits that as volunteers, they are often at the receiving end of an attender’s wrath.

They’ve heard all kinds of things: ‘Can’t you even arrange for one bed?’, ‘Loafer, pick up the call’, ‘I don’t want to share Aadhaar details, what if you steal my money?’ “They show their frustration on us but we try not reacting. I understand they are anxious but they also have to understand that we have chosen to do this and are doing our best with limited resources,” he says.



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