Virtual classes, projects under way

Students recording videos of themselves doing yoga poses, making stage lighting plans and practising the Stanislavski method of acting have all become part of the National School of Drama (NSD)’s online learning initiative during the COVID-19 lockdown.

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While about 70% of the classes for the NSD’s three-year course in dramatic arts required practical training, the remaining syllabus could be adapted to virtual teaching, NSD director-in-charge Suresh Sharma said.

“We can’t teach improvisation in acting or model-making for stage online, but certain theoretical aspects can be taught online,” he said.

After classes were suspended on March 13 on the directions of the Culture Ministry, online classes started from March 28 and students were given projects to submit by May 15, according to an official.

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Various approaches

First-year students were asked to record videos doing yoga and explaining their observations of the changes experienced.

For the movement projects, students were asked to work on different exercises they had learnt in class and choreograph a small piece based on that, the official said. Second and third-year students were asked to continue rehearsing for the productions planned before the lockdown.

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While acting students were told to make videos of their work, direction and design students were asked to prepare the set design, light and ground plan.

Webinars for aspirants

In addition to the virtual classes for students, NSD has also launched a “theatre for all” webinar series on topics such as acting, sound and video technology for the stage and festival management for aspiring students and theatre enthusiasts, Mr. Sharma said.

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He added that two online workshops of 10 days each – on theatre appreciation and playwriting – would be launched in June. About 30-35 people would be able to register for these, he said.

The Union Culture Ministry was planning to promote theatre during the lockdown through virtual initiatives, Ministry secretary Anand Kumar said. “We are trying to create interest in drama and are moving towards virtual classes. We will be engaging with some leading personalities connected with the NSD,” Mr. Kumar said.

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