With a larger than usual stage, spaced out seating for a masked audience and actors armed with negative COVID-19 test results, the National School of Drama is preparing for its first production since the pandemic has shut down all public spaces in March.

Three shows of Pehla Satyagrahi, a play about the life of Mahatma Gandhi written by Ravindra Tripathy, have been planned this week in commemoration of Gandhiji’s birth anniversary, NSD director-in-charge and director of the play Suresh Sharma said on Monday. The shows, one each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, will be at 6.30 p.m. in an open-air auditorium at its Bhagwandas Road premises.

Mr. Sharma said the shows this week would be the first since March 16. He said all actors had been tested for COVID-19 and only those who tested negative were allowed to participate. Following the government’s Unlock 4 guidelines, Mr. Sharma said only 100 tickets would be sold for each show.

“The stage will be sanitized regularly and distance maintained. We have increased the size of the stage. The sitting gallery will be made in such a way as to maintain distance between seats,” Mr. Sharma said.

The audience would have to wear face masks and buy their tickets online starting Tuesday. He said if all goes well, the NSD would be organizing performances every other weekend.

Mr. Sharma said since there had been no performances for over six months, he expected the response to be positive, though people are still cautious about venturing out.

Following the Culture Ministry’s directive, classes at the NSD were suspended on March 13 and online classes, as well as webinars for the general public, were organized during the lockdown.

This article was originally posted at TheHindu.com on September 28th, 2020, and has been reposted with permission. To read the original article, click here.

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