During the heydays: Audience enjoying a mobile theatre performance in Assam | Photo courtesy: sk.sagepub.com

The plight of professional theatre workers of Assam due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has been brought to the notice of the chief minister with personalities related to theatre and allied fields urging the government for supporting the section of cultural workers.

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A four-member delegation called on Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal recently and submitted a memorandum, appending a preliminary list of 200 full time theatre workers and requesting the government’s support for them.

The professional theatre workers are not associated with the mobile theatre groups of the state, and including people working in different segments such as script writing, direction, acting, make-up, set design, costume, lights and others in theatre groups.

“The theatre workers of Assam are in acute financial stress after almost four months of no work. Many are selling vegetables, while some have turned daily-wage labourers at several places. Some have even sold their prized possessions used dearly in theatre productions, only to feed a few meals to their families. The future of their children is totally uncertain,” the memorandum said.

It also expressed apprehension that many could be driven to suicide if no help is extended to them.

“In such a situation, we do not have any other option but to seek your support and assistance in our battle for survival. If your helping hand does not reach us and lift us up, our very existence will be at stake. And we are sure that a sensible, sympathetic and people-loving leader like you will always stand by us. Therefore, we request you to kindly support and assist us for at least the next six months for our survival,” the memorandum added.

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The chief minister assured of looking into the matter and said the Cultural department will be instructed to draw a plan to help the theatre workers.

Altogether 12 prominent personalities have signed the memorandum, including Sudakshina Sarma, president, ITPA (Assam); Sitanath Lahkar, director, Samahar Natya Gostee; Tarun Chandra Talukdar, director, Jagiroad Nathya Gosti; Dilip Borah, director, Neinad Gostee and Gunakar Dev Goswami, director, Purbaranga.

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