Come Together Right Now !

Friday, 25 September 2020 | 7pm to 8.30pm IST

  • What does it mean to participate in and create a collective presence?
  • What are those special ephemeral experiences that occur only when people come together as doers and watchers in the same time and space?


Malavika Banerjee | Calcutta, India

Nusrat Chowdhury | Dhaka, Bangladesh

Ratna Pathak Shah | Mumbai, India

Shona McCarthy | Edinburgh, Scotland

“The coronavirus is so insidious because it attacks one of the central yearnings of human nature, which just so happens to be the bedrock theatre is built on: our desire to assemble. The one galvanizing, unassailable, and gloriously frustrating truth about our field is that like life, theatre is ephemeral. It must not only be experienced live, but also, and just as importantly, together.”

~ Nicolas Berger, The Forgotten Art of Assembly

Our opening session situates itself between two questions coming directly out of our current experience: what have we lost, and what have we learned? Both deal with the human need to gather together as a constructive and compassionate action. At present, this is both denied to us and viewed with suspicion and fear. Live presence and proximity is now synonymous with insecurity and ill health.

What does this mean for the transformative energy of collective power that has been so much a part of how human society defines and presents itself – we are, after all, social animals. How has it changed our idea of what it means to have, create and participate in a collective presence? And what becomes of those special ephemeral experiences that occur only when people come together as doers and watchers in the same time and space? What becomes of the human act of assembly?


Malavika Banerjee


Malavika Banerjee is a director at Gameplan, a 22-year-old sports marketing company that has worked with live sport for many years, including five cricket World Cups and four T20 Cricket World Cups. Gameplan diversified into other events in 2011 and at  present Banerjee is also the director of the Kolkata Literary Meet as well as Literary Meets in Ranchi and Bhubaneswar. She is also partner at Byloom, a destination store in Kolkata that showcases handloom and handicraft.

Nusrat Chowdhury

Nusrat Chowdhury is an associate professor of anthropology at Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA. Her research and teaching broadly focuses on topics like popular sovereignty and political communication. Her recent book Paradoxes of the Popular: Crowd Politics in Bangladesh (Stanford University Press 2019)  is an anthropology of crowds, a permanent fixture in South Asian democratic life. Here is a brief description of the book: “The focus here is on mass protests, long considered the primary medium of meaningful change in this part of the world. Chowdhury writes provocatively about everyday democracy in Bangladesh in a rich ethnography that studies some of the most consequential protests of the last decade, spanning both rural and urban Bangladesh. By making the crowd its starting point and analytical locus, this book tacks between multiple sites of public political gatherings and pays attention to the ephemeral and often accidental configurations of the crowd. Ultimately, Chowdhury makes an original case for the crowd as a defining feature and a foundational force of democratic practices in South Asia and beyond.”

Ratna Pathak Shah

Ratna Pathak Shah studied at the National School of Drama, New Delhi. She has played leading parts in several plays in English, Hindustani and Gujarati like The Lesson, Silence! The Court is in Session, Don Juan in Hell, Jasma Odan, The Misunderstanding, Ismat Apa ke Naam, Dear Liar, Antigone and The Father. On Television, she has acted in long running serials like Idhar Udhar, Tara, Filmi Chakkar and Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai. Her film work includes Heat and Dust, Mandi, Mirch Masala, What If…., Jane tu ya jane na, Kapoor and Sons and Lipstick under my Burqa. She is a founder-member of Motley, a theatre company in Mumbai and has directed A Walk In the Woods (a play on the Indo-Pak relationship), and Florian Zeller’s The Truth. She has also directed plays for children and young people in schools and community centres.
As part of the Core Team of the Avehi-Abacus Project, she has been involved in producing Sangati a series of 6 Teaching – Learning Kits for children in schools and Non-Formal Education centres, as well as Manthan, a 2-year programme for teacher trainees and Saath Saath a kit on gender for schools.

Shona McCarthy


Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Shona McCarthy.

9 May 2016. Picture by JANE BARLOW

© Jane Barlow 2016 {all rights reserved}
m: 07870 152324

Shona McCarthy joined the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society as Chief Executive in March 2016. Shona has championed Edinburgh’s Fringe as the world’s leading open access, performing arts festival and founded on the principle of freedom of expression. From 2011-2014 she was Chief Executive of the Culture Company, leading on Derry – Londonderry’s transformational year as UK City of Culture. Prior to that she was Director of the British Council Northern Ireland.  She also spent many years as Chief Executive of Cinemagic Film Festival for young people, Belfast; and the Foyle Film Festival, Derry; and was Head of Exhibition at the Northern Ireland Film Council. Shona has 25 years’ experience of working in senior leadership positions and was awarded a prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship for Innovation in 2014 and a NESTA cultural leadership award which took her to live and work in Calcutta, India for 6 months.