An online audio story contest, named Sonibarer Sonabela, is being organised by the CG Block-based NGO Prayasam in which blocks across Salt Lake and New Town can take part.
“We are inviting groups of two to five participants to prepare audio plays of 15-20 minutes duration in Bengali or Hindi, based on stories written by any well-known author,” said Prayasam founder director Amlan Ganguly.
The NGO works with children and youth in colonies and slums of Salt Lake and the neighbourhood. “We thought of audio plays on seeing the depressed mental state of youngsters staying locked down at home to avert Covid-19 infection, without scope to meet friends or go to school. Listening to stories will perk them up. Since most do not have grandparents at home to tell them stories any more this will be a good experience for them,” Ganguly added.
Mili Roy, who is co-ordinating the contest, explained the rules. “The entries will be posted on our Facebook page every Saturday at a fixed time. We will take into account the number of likes, comments, shares, reach and views a story gets. A cumulative algorithm at our backend will work out the rankings.”
Prayasam has its own recording studio, set up with equipment sponsored by Adobe Foundation. “We will give 120-minute slots in our studio to each group on a date of their choice to record the audio play,” said Saptarshi Ray, who heads the social media sector of Prayasam.
Recording of the performances will start from September 22.
The entries will be uploaded on a weekly basis from October 2. To ensure there is no early bird advantage for performances uploaded early, the results will be based on the feedback received in the first 10 days after the upload.
The top three groups will get to perform in front of a live audience at Prayasam’s art space called Kalanjali on the ground floor of its premises in the last week of December.
The blocks are happy to get a platform to perform. “In any other year, our rehearsals for the Puja cultural programmes would have started in all earnest. This time, there is talk of going online. Meanwhile, we are rehearsing over WhatsApp conference calls for the audio play contest,” said Monika Mukherjee of FD Block, who has picked Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s short story Rajkumari Kambolli from the collection Sita Theke Suru as the piece to record with three of her neighbours.
“In a situation where physical shows are no longer being held, it is a good initiative by Prayasam which is letting us stay culturally active,” added Sangita Saha, a member of the cultural committee of CJ Block. “We have been performing audio plays which is comparatively a new medium of entertainment. But this podcast will be more like radio plays where the performers are not seen by the audience.”
Saha and her four neighbours will be performing Basantabouri, a play penned by Purbachal resident Nirup Mitra, who passed away in January.
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