A group of theatre artistes launch a mobile canteen


The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a crippling blow to theatre troupes who depend on live performances and crowds to earn a living. While lockdown restrictions have eased considerably, it’s unlikely that live theatre will bounce back in the near future, forcing artistes to embrace new ways to make a living.

A group of theatre artistes in the city have started a mobile eatery near Nandini Layout bus stop. Working out of a van, they sell homemade tomato bath, idli-vade, chapati, rice and sambar, and chitranna between 7 a.m. and noon.

Channakeshava G., a designer and actor, said the group believed that both preparation and consumption of food is an art form and decided to run a mobile canteen. The idea was born out of need and passion. “Food is prepared by us at home without any baking soda or artificial colouring. We take all precautions while preparing and packaging food. We have seen thespians start cafes and book stores. A roadside mobile eatery is rare,” he said.

He and his friends admit that with their livelihood at stake, they had no option but to become entrepreneurs. “Five of us, from different theatre groups came together to start this mobile canteen. It helps that cooking is our passion,” he added.

Lakshman K.P., who trained at the Inter-cultural Theatre Institute in Singapore, said, “COVID-19-related restrictions will remain for a long time. Our hope is to create a small but beautiful art space in and around our food van. We plan to hold poetry and photography sessions at our food stall.”

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Sidhaartha Maadhyamika, a theatre artist who has been part of a few indie films, is using this time to learn new skills. “We were in our own zone, comfortably numb for years. But the pandemic is teaching us to adapt and keep moving, which in a way is also what theatre is about,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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