Fourteen prominent American writer/directors are part of a worldwide roster of over 100 global theater artists lending their voices July 20, 2021 to “HowlRound for India,” a 24-hour online marathon of live readings and talks honoring the Indian theater community for its efforts in facing Covid-19. The event will call loudly and urgently for India and the rest of the world to find better political solutions to prevent such disasters. This free virtual event, carried live on HowlRound Theatre Commons (https://howlround.com), is organized by Frank Hentschker, Director of CUNY’s Segal Theatre Center; Abhishek Majumdar, a playwright/director from Bangalore, India; and Tanvi Shah, a director/producer based in Mumbai.
The aim is to help mobilize a worldwide outpouring that can reach the ears of government and business leaders in India, where responses to the pandemic were initially successful but later foundered horribly.
“HowlRound for India” is not a fundraiser: India had and has enough resources to prevent and solve this crisis. Still, while in the western world in some places over 70 % of the population has been vaccinated, the situation in India remains apocalyptic as the country prepares for the third wave. During the second wave in April, May, and June, India had bodies piling up. Morgues were overloaded and bodies needed to be burned on the streets. Life-saving oxygen was unavailable, while lynchings and extrajudicial killings remained commonplace. Covid patients in rural areas had and continue to have inadequate access to the Internet to request a bed in a hospital. Multitudes of nurses, doctors and healthcare workers have died. Amidst this, since the beginning of the pandemic, Indian theater artists like Abhishek Majumdar and his team have volunteered night after night to help their fellow citizens.
Bangalore, Majumdar’s home base, was the epicenter of India’s Covid outbreak. Teams of artists there organized food and ad hoc resources for the afflicted. Their undertakings included food drives, locating parts for oxygen machines and repairing them, and staying up nights to call and connect with the sick–monitoring their oxygen levels and arranging hospital admissions for them. Teams of artists were and remain similarly active in other cities and localities around the country.
U.S. participants in “HowlRound for India” will include (as of this writing) Anne Bogart, Rachel Cooper, Philip Howze, Carol Martin, Maude Mitchell, Manuel Moran, Carey Perloff, Paulette Richards, Carl Hancock Rux, Richard Schechner, Peter Schumann, James Scruggs, Tom Walker and Tamilla Woodard. Noted ensembles participating include: The Pina Bausch Company, The Living Theatre, The Bread and Puppet Theater and Rimini Protocol. There will be about 50 Indian theater artists participating. Other global participants will include over 40 artists from at least 30 countries, notably: Guillermo Calderón (Chile), Toshiki Okada (Japan), Jeton Neziraj (Kosovo), Frédérique Aït-Touati (France), Paper Moon (Indonesia), Govin Ruben & Terence Conrad (Malaysia) and Guy Régis Jr. (Haiti). The complete lineup and schedule is available at: https://www.thesegalcenter.org/event/howlround-for-india.
This marathon is the culminating event of The Siegel Theatre Center’s online conversation series, “The Time of Corona,” which has offered colloquies on art during the pandemic featuring more than 200 theater artists from over 50 countries. In assembling this marathon, The Segal Center invited 50 Indian theater artists and 50 prior Segal Talk guests to read excerpts from works that inspired them in these difficult times.
The marathon will be moderated by the Segal Center’s Frank Hentschker and hosted on HowlRound (https://howlround.com), a US based non-profit digital platform for theater and performance. Goals are:
- to highlight the devastating COVID-19 situation in India
- to honor the memory of theater artists who died during the time of Corona
- to celebrate the inspiring contribution by global theatre artists during the COVID Crisis (especially in India)
- to provide a short update from countries around the world and a comment on the social and political situation
The marathon will be live streamed on https://howlround.com from 9:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, July 20 to 9:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, July 21. For its complete schedule of events (in formation as of this writing), visit: https://www.thesegalcenter.org/event/howlround-for-india/.
Admission is free and the event is online only. “HowlRound for India” is an initiative of the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center (www.TheSegalCenter.org) and The Graduate Center CUNY, New York.