Plague, Pandemics, Performance

Friday, 2 October 2020 | 7pm to 8.30pm IST

Key Questions

  • How has our collective consciousness been framed by the plagues past?
  • Can thinking with performance reframe the way we conceive of collectivities and contagion?


Daminee Basu | India 

Jhuma Basak | India

“First of all we must recognize that the theatre, like the plague, is a delirium and is communicative… the action of theatre, like that of plague, is beneficial, for, impelling men to see themselves as they are, it causes the mask to fall, reveals the lie, the slackness, baseness, and hypocrisy of our world; it shakes off the asphyxiating inertia of matter which invades even the clearest testimony of the senses; and in revealing to collectivities of men their dark power, their hidden force, it invites them to take, in the face of destiny, a superior and heroic attitude they would never have assumed without it.”

~ Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and Its Double

As we confront our new realities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we seek to understand the historical, social, religious, cultural lineages of our present moment. Throughout history, outbreaks of plagues and contagions of various kinds, both real and imagined, have had a profound impact on the way we perform – in everyday life and on stage.

How has our collective consciousness been framed by the plagues past? What role does performance play in these processes? Can thinking with performance reframe the way we conceive of collectivities and contagion?


Daminee Basu


Daminee has been brought up on stage from her childhood as a trained singer-actor. Her orientation has been very close to the Indian stage for the last thirty-five years. On stage she has worked with directors like Soumitra Chattopadhyay, Asit Basu, Usha Ganguly, Bibhash Chakraborty, Debesh Chattopadhyay, Arun Mukhopadhyay, Suman Mukhopadhyay, Anjan Dutt, Joyraj Bhattacharjee to name only a few. She has been a known name in cinema as well, where she has acted, coached and researched as a consultant for directors like Rituparno Ghosh, Kaushik Ganguly, Shoojit Sircar, Srijit Mukherji, Anik Dutta, Raj Chakraborty, Indranil Roychowdhury and Parambrata Chattopadhyay. Daminee currently handles the responsibility of coaching national and international actors/performers across the world through her own training workshop, known as The Class Act Commune (ClassAct) which looks to engage actors, performers, artists and anyone in learning or thinking deeply about issues that would help them in breaking the set patterns of their own comfort zones. In pursuit of understanding more about herself as a performer Benny has chosen to better her learning constantly. Her training in Cultural Anthropology (from Centre of Studies in Social Sciences , Calcutta) draws its strength from her base in Philosophy (Presidency College, Calcutta University) and love for ontology. She likes to study a new course in every few years. Lately she’s invested into learning and understanding Jungian Psychology and Esoteric Psychology, and finding ways in which it can be applied to enhance performance. Daminee is still working on and experimenting with different techniques and schools of acting around the world, which challenges and moves beyond set myths and hallowed practices amongst practitioners. She is thoroughly trained in the Eric Morris System of Beyond-Method acting, by Eric Morris himself, in Hollywood.
Her life motto is ‘if it aint fun, it aint worth it!’

Jhuma Basak

Dr. Basak is a Training & Supervising Analyst of the Indian Psychoanalytical Society, and Ph.D in Psychology from the Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan. She is a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association, London (IPA). She is an active member of COWAP-IPA (committee on women & psychoanalysis), and consultant member at the IPA-Humanitarian Organization. She started her career as a dancer-choreographer, and then later moved into psychoanalysis. As a dancer, she has travelled widely across the world supported by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations during her artistic tenure with Dancers’ Guild for over a decade. Her area of interest in psychoanalysis lies in culture, women & gender. She has international publications in journals & books translated into different languages like Japanese, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Hungarian, along with papers presented at various international IPA Congresses over the last 20yrs (Nice, Chicago, New Orleans, Mexico, Boston, London etc).
She has her own private clinical practice in Kolkata, and is also associated with the Woodlands Multispeciality Hospital and Crystal Minds in Kolkata.