Destitute theatre artistes across the country are in dire need of support and many face uncertain future unless the government stands beside them, warned playwright-actor-director Ananta Hira.
‘In the wake of COVID-19, all theatre shows were cancelled. Artistes who are entirely dependent on theatre lost their livelihoods overnight and have no way of putting food on the table for their families. They are in dire need of support,’ said Ananta Hira, also chief of theatre troupe Prangonemor.
‘I cannot overstate the sense of rising despair among the hapless theatre artistes at present. Unfortunately, the cultural affairs ministry hasn’t done anything to help them until this moment,’ added Hira.
‘Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation has submitted a letter to the cultural affairs ministry requesting support for theatre artistes and is yet to receive any response. I, myself, also submitted a letter to the ministry 25 days ago but haven’t heard anything back. Besides, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy must take steps for helping artistes,’ he mentioned.
Ananta Hira pointed out, ‘Artistes always play an important role during all national crises. They take to the street and help in raising mass awareness through cultural performances. They have every right to receive humanitarian aid amid COVID-19 crisis.’
‘From Prangonemor we have provided assistance to a number of destitute theatre artistes but we cannot do it for a longer period of time,’ he added.
Prangonemor had to cancel a total of nine shows in the wake of COVID-19.
‘We were rehearsing two plays namely “Pataka Pagol” and “Kabir Desher Ashta Adal” which we wanted to premiere marking Mujib birth centenary but we had to cancel everything. We also cancelled foreign shows in West Bengal and Assam of India. We had to cancel nine shows in total,’ uttered Hira.
When asked how he is spending his time at home, Hira replied, ‘I have been passing my free time reading books which I missed earlier due to my busy schedule. I am also writing stories, watching films along with local and international news.’
Hira urged all to follow government and WHO directives.
‘I urge all to stay at home and no to go outside unless it is an emergency. If we follow directives we can win against the deadly virus,’ said Hira, who is hopeful that the crisis will soon pass.
‘I think that the situation will continue for one more month. However, once the pandemic is over the cultural arena will need a while to turn around,’ he ended.
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