Newsletter July 2017

July 2017 – Issue no.2 

CONTENTS:

  1. Theatre of the Oppressed – A methodological force in the struggle for a New Common Sense – Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn, Bolivia
  2. Journey Mercies”: Forum Theatre Outreach in East Africa – Mecca Antonia Burns, Uganda
  3. Act for Change – Collins Seymah Smith, Ghana
  4. 5th international Non-festival of Theatre of Oppressed in Slovenia – Barbara Polajnar, Slovenia
  5. AUGUSTUS – Training for facilitators: Forum Theatre for Community Development – Hungary

Dear community of the Theatre of the Oppressed and all those interested in the JSIRRI project,

The function of JSIRRI is to place in context, geographically and methodologically, the significance of Jana Sanskriti’s work; and to suggest paths by which it can interact with, shed light on, inspire and be inspired by, and open up questions about its relationship to other kinds of similar work in many places. In the last few weeks, Jana Sanskriti core team members have themselves, as so often in the past, been furthering these kinds of connections in practice, both beyond India (in Uganda) and in states beyond West Bengal in India (in Maharashtra). Other activities have brought practitioners to Badu for workshops and in order to strengthen links. (We hope to have accounts of much of this in subsequent Newsletters.)

This is the kind of sharing that signals the ethos of connection which underpins JS’s work and was the motivation for JSIRRI. Sanjoy might call it a form of spirituality. It is a practice of love; not as sentiment, but as an activity of exchange. JS do it because they know it works.

It’s very appropriate then that the contributions we’ve received for this Newsletter reflect many of these dimensions, in particular with reference to the African continent. “Journey Mercies”: Forum Theatre Outreach in East Africa’ gives a glimpse of the context of work which Jana Sanskriti’s visit supported and makes it clear that there a large number of similar concerns which the work of both groups addresses. We are very pleased to welcome Mecca, who contributed this piece, to our Editorial team and look forward to exploring these further in future.

Act for Change from Accra, Ghana uses interactive, popular theatre and other participatory methods and are looking for links with others doing similar work. Their participatory structure and the issues they address also suggest strong parallels with aspects of JS’s work, though their methodologies show some difference; there’s lots of room here for interaction and discussion.

In the African context, there are also established and very active TO groups in Senegal (Kaddu Yaraax) and Mozambique (CTO Maputo – though beware, the acronym is also used by several other organisations including the telephone provider!); in South Africa the Drama for Life programme at Wits University trains practitioners to work in Southern Africa Development Consortium countries, and runs a variety of programmes at all levels on TO, Playback and other forms of community and applied theatre.

Susan Quick of Enabling Theatre will report in the next Newsletter on her workshop for disabled people at this year’s Kaddu Yaraax festival; space permitting, we will also include an account of an earlier visit by Mecca Burns.

Hjalmar Joffre-Eichhorn’s short definition of key aspects of TO (Theatre of the Oppressed: A methodological force in the struggle for a New Common Sense) sets out six theses which exemplify its advantages as a method of responding to the critical situations – political, social, economic, interpersonal – which most people in the world face. Although written for publication in Latin America, the points it makes are universally applicable. They very usefully identify influences, principles and methodologies and signal important ways in which the ‘arsenal’ of TO is well-placed to respond to the enormous challenges facing humanity. A more extensive treatment of all these areas, plus their embedding in Boal’s work in Latin America and his links with Freire, can be found in Birgit Fritz’s book:

Birgit Fritz, The Courage to Become: Augusto Boal’s Revolutionary Politics of the Body.

Translated by Lara Sendzimir and Ralph Yarrow

340 pages

danzig & unfried, 2017

ISBN 978-3-902752-25-3

EUR 39,–/US$ 42,–/BP 33,–

http://www.danzigunfried.com/publishing/produkt/birgit-fritz-the-courage-to-become-augusto-boal/

Hjalmar’s contribution is available in four languages: Español, Deutsch, English and Japanese: links to the non-English versions are provided. This is most welcome since we would like the Newsletter to be accessible to as many people as possible. Please send future contributions not only in English but also in any other language you feel comfortable with.

Barbara Polajnar has contributed a short account of the 5th ‘Non-Festival of TO’ in Slovenia– another inspiring event. We also include a notification of a forthcoming workshop in Italy.

Many thanks to all our contributors; we invite everyone to think about how this range of approaches to the practice of TO can be extended and supported. Are there collaborative ventures and projects which you would like to see building on this? We would very much welcome ideas and debates. And please contribute further material about methodology, goals, forms of practice and their effects for the next issue!

The next newsletter is planned to come out early October 2017. Send contributions (of all kinds, s.a.) by 15 September 2017 to muktadhara.janasanskriti@gmail.com.

With our warmest greetings

The Editorial Team

Mecca, Kelly, Pratyusha, Ralph and Joschka

Advertisements

Newsletter May 2017

MAY 2017 – Issue no.1 

CONTENTS:

  1. Impressions from Muktadhara 2016
  2. A look at other groups using TO/Arts for Social Change – Ralph Yarrow, University of East Anglia, UK
  3. Reflection space: Problems to be faced: Call for common global TO action – Sanjoy Ganguly, Jana Sanskriti, India
  4. Reflection space: TO and its impact in a broader political/social theatre landscape – Joschka Köck, practitioner at TdU Wien, Austria
  5. Movement news: Refusal as Solidarity: Tamar Alon released from the Israeli army after 130 days in prison –  Kelly Howe, Loyola University, USA

Dear community of the Theatre of the Oppressed and all those interested in the JSIRRI project,

We want to welcome you to our new newsletter which has the objective of connecting the global TO community and others working in similar fields, through a quarterly short newsletter.

Jana Sanskriti has in the last years tried to give the global TO community a home in which it can flourish and with JSIRRI to give it a global platform to connect with each other. This newsletter extends that effort.

After the last Muktadhara festival of Jana Sanskriti in December 2016, we formed a small team to edit this newsletter. It consists of Pratyusha Ghosh (Jana Sanskriti, India), Kelly Howe (USA), Ralph Yarrow (University of East Anglia, UK) and Joschka Köck (TdU Wien, Austria).

The idea is that all of you who receive this newsletter can contribute to it: be it as contributors of texts, news (such as festivals, workshops etc.), reflections, presentations of TO groups (or other applied theatre practitioners/movements/companies), archive material, political statements/calls for actions or new methodologies of theatre you have developed etc. (that are roughly 1 to 2 pages long); be it as translators who undertake to translate this letter into other global languages so that it can reach more people; be it through forwarding it to friends of your own TO network; be it through giving active feedback to us as the editing team. Of course you are also very welcome to join our small team. In any case please write a message to muktadhara.janasanskriti@gmail.com

In this first issue, Ralph Yarrow presents some theatre groups from South Africa which are not TO companies by name but who also engage in a Freirianic way of building functional political literacy among participants. Also he has written a short update on the Muktadhara festival 2016. Kelly Howe has written a summary of the events around Tamar Alon‘s brave struggle not to become a soldier in the Israeli army. Sanjoy Ganguly reflects how a spiritual activism with its sense of one-ness (as opposed to binaric capitalist thinking) can lead us to a nature-centric humanistic perception. He therefore invites us as the global TO community to be united under a common political struggle. Joschka Köck is posing some of his recent thoughts on the TO as a theatre movement and is trying to stimulate a discussion about whether we as TO practitioners care enough about aesthetic value (and in fact if TO is the only valid activist-political theatre form).

Lastly we want to welcome all your questions and opinions about JSIRRI and Jana Sanskriti as a whole. We are particularly interested in any proposals for collaboration, skills exchange, research projects etc.

The next newsletter is planned to come out at the end of July 2017. Send contributions (of all kinds, s.a.) by 15 July to muktadhara.janasanskriti@gmail.com.

With love and solidarity from three continents

your JSIRRI newsletter editing team

Kelly, Pratyusha, Ralph and Joschka

PS: If you wonder, what is JSIRRI and what it is actually for and you have never really taken the time to think about what it could be, don‘t hesitate and visit our website at: https://voiceofjsirri.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/vision-mission/

Meeting and Making the mask

BUILDING THE MASK OF YOUR OPPRESSOR

After seven years it was my honor and delight to return to Jana Sanskriti. This time, I came prepared to offer a  workshop and I brought two of my American students.

The workshop was held in three languages – English, Hindi and Bengali. With the help of our willing participants communication was possible.

unnamed
Workshop participants from Jana Sanskriti South 24 Parganas, a community group from Rajasthan and students interning at Jana Sanskriti

I had never offered this workshop before. I dreamed it and it felt like a good idea. BUILDING THE MASK OF YOUR OPPRESSOR.

Masks have been my specialty for over 30 years and I once worked for a mask maker who made face casts.I had also taken a workshop about your inner demons and this photo is the mask I made for that workshop.

unnamed (2)

In three days, we met and built the masks and on day four, the real work began. Pairs were encouraged to have a conversation with their masks on their phones in the selfie mode.

I think this exercise is a great building block to add to Boal’s Rainbow of Desire and Cop in the Head exercises.

I will be meeting with Katy Rubin in NYC next week to discuss possibilities for further development of this exercise.

Jana Sanskriti once again acts as glue joining like-minded individual together in the world.

I look forward to returning to Jana Sanskriti soon.

Shelly Wyant

Feb 2017

KURINGA and JANA SANSKRITI

Aesthetics of the Oppressed – Sound/Rhythm in Badu

BADU[1]

tea, theatre

sound, rhythm

image, movement

tea, team

food, fruits

flavours, care

tea, theory

concepts, perceptions

discussion, exchange

tea, tears

memory, history

emotion, imagination

BADU…

Our investigation of Aesthetics of the Oppressed – Sound/Rhythm began with a theatrical laboratory in Berlin in 2010. Based on this experience we created a structure for workshops as well as a way of creation of Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) productions in general, and Forum Theatre productions in particular. We tested and developed this structure in workshops in KURINGA Berlin (20011/12) as well as during Theatre of the Oppressed meetings and festivals such as the Pula Forum Festival in Croatia (2012/13) and the Second Latin American Theatre of the Oppressed Meeting in Guatemala (2012).

In 2013, we decided to share the Sound/Rhythm-process with the Centre of the Theatre of the Oppressed (CTO) in Rio de Janeiro, out of recognition and gratitude. CTO was our source of inspiration stimulating us to follow the research of Aesthetics of the Oppressed that Augusto Boal and his team had begun in 2001 in Brazil. After the workshop and street presentation in Rio, more workshops and presentations followed: at the Colombian Theatre of the Oppressed Festival (2013) and the Latin American Theatre of the Oppressed Meetings in Bolivia and Nicaragua (2014/16).

In 2015, Jana Sanskriti visited us in KURINGA, space for Theatre of the Oppressed in Berlin. The group presented their play “Shonar Meye” and watched Forum Theatre presentations from the KURINGA community groups Madalena-Berlin and KIKMA.[2] At this occasion, we spoke about how to share the experience of Aesthetics of the Oppressed – Sound/Rhythm with Jana Sanskriti in Badu – a plan we were finally able to realize in June 2016.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Common grounds

Our connection with Jana Sanskriti, international reference for everybody who practices Theatre of the Oppressed, had been existing for a long time. Bárbara first met the group during the international Theatre of the Oppressed  Festival in Rio de Janeiro in 1993 and then re-connected during the Muktadhara festivals in 2006 (with Augusto Boal) and 2010, when she conducted the first Madalena Laboratory in India.[3] Till participated in the Muktadhara festivals 2010 and 2012, conducting plastic barrel percussion workshops with Jana Sanskriti and ATG Halle.[4] As KURINGA was founded in 2011, the workshop Aesthetics of the Oppressed – Sound/Rhythm in Badu was the first collaboration between Jana Sanskriti and KURINGA.

From our perspective, the common grounds between KURINGA and Jana Sanskriti are our deep commitment to social transformation and a TO practice, where aesthetics stimulate the understanding of social structures that produce and nourish oppression. With Jana Sanskriti, we are convinced that Forum Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed need analytical dialogue and the search for alternatives through the construction of alliances between groups of oppressed.

From 13 to 19 June 2016, we were invited to Badu to develop an unforgettable aesthetic experience including sounds, rhythms, flavours, colours, aromas and stories. This week allowed us to reconnect with our friends and to return to a familiar environment. We were able to get to know the newly built Augusto Boal Auditorium and had the honour to work in this impressive space. We were very happy to share time with persons deeply experienced in the method and open for a process of collective sharing and learning.

Garbage

As always, we met the challenge of the adaptation of a working method to local specifities. For example: the use of objects from recycled garbage as a resource for the Sound/Rhythm process. What would be our working material in a place where bottles, barrels, tins, cardboard boxes and almost every kind of container or wrapping are recycled for domestic use or sold in the streets? Finding discarded objects that can still be of use for sound production was a collective task that led us to a stimulating discussion about concepts of garbage, of consume and waste, and about different ways of life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Theory[5]

In our Aesthetics of the Oppressed – Sound/Rhythm workshops, the practical process is always connected to theoretical reflection. In Badu, it was the challenging language situation that invited us to focus on the most essential aspects. Reflections translated from English to Bengali and back from Bengali to English about concepts of oppression and transformation, about aesthetics and dramaturgy allowed a fascinating dialogue between all of us. Everybody’s openness for reflection and investigation facilitated the creation of a fertile environment for collective learning.

J4000x3000-00054

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sonorous Story

Telling the sonorous stories is a crucial moment of the Sound/Rhythm process. One part of the group tells their story, only by using Sound, the other part of the group listens with closed eyes and then responds with images, using their bodies. No words are used, neither during the production of the sonorous stories nor in the dialogue of Sound and Image. Maybe the sonorous story process in Badu was the easiest and most fluid so far. Despite the complexity of the methodology, the group reached concrete stories and the images proposed seemed to echo in all persons present. The choice of one story from a variety of proposals was based on the urgency of the topic and not much time was needed for the decision process. Once there was a concrete and specific oppression, recognized by everybody, the focus was on developing sounds and images that broaden the vision of the problem. We achieved a result that was at the same time aesthetic-metaphorical and absolutely palpable: a story of exploitation and miserable working conditions in factories, especially for women.[6]

J4000x3000-00052

Word

For the first time we also developed Word as aesthetic element during the Sound/Rhythm process. Even though we were in a context where we did not speak nor write the language common to the group (Bengali), it was possible to use the creation of poems as activity of common understanding of the wider social context related to the specific topic represented in the play. The group decided to produce a synthesis, using parts of all the poems produced during the aesthetic process. Word, Sound/Rhythm and Image were used to create a performance that introduced the social context of the presentation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Forum

The audience for the Forum Theatre presentation were people from the neighbourhood, the Badu community. They seemed to be absolutely connected to the story that was presented, as the aesthetic representation was clear and the topic of work exploitation in factories is of high relevance in the region. This connection guaranteed for diverse interventions, many spect-actors came on stage and showed their proposals for transformation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Performance at Boal Auditorium, Badu
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Audience from neighbourhood

Badu in Badu

As we were in Badu, we wanted to share the path of one or our favourite exercises called „Badu“.[7] Originally a kind of rhythmical opening ritual during the 2010 barrel percussion workshops involving the names of everybody, in our Sound/Rhythm workshops „Badu“ became a rhythm exercise with many variations. At the IV Latin American Theatre of the Oppressed Meeting, realized in January 2016 in Matagalpa/Nicaragua, one workshop participant, María Zikín, created a poem based on the exercise.[8] From the „Badu“ rhythm and the text of the poem, we created a collective rhythmical performance that opened the Forum Theatre presentation, involving the whole audience in a „badú, badú, badú” chorus. During the workshop with Jana Sanskriti, we introduced rhythm and chorus and asked for proposals: what did the group want to express about Badu? What did they want to communicate at the beginning of the presentation to the Badu community? From the proposals („There are nice people in Badu”, „There are lots of trees in Badu”, „A lot of theatre happens here”, „Ghirish Bhavan is located in Badu”[9] etc.) we created a rhythmical opening performance with sentences about Badu, singing and dancing for the Badu community that helped us in the chorus: „Badu, Badu, Badu”…

Bárbara Santos / Till Baumann

July 2016

http://kuringa.org

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Badu, Badu, Badu….

Badú

 Te invito a sentir el ritmo,

el ritmo de tu cabeza

badú, badú, badú

descubrirás la belleza…

Te invito a sentir el ritmo,

el ritmo de tu corazón,

badú, badú, badú

encontrarás la emoción…

Te invito a sentir el ritmo,

el ritmo de tu panza,

badú, badú, badú

te llenarás de confianza…

Te invito a sentir el ritmo,

el ritmo de tus pies,

si te gustó la canción

empezamos otra vez…

Badú con la cabeza

y con el corazón,

badú, badú badú

es nuestra nueva canción.

(María Zikín 2016, inspirada en el Taller Estética Ritmo y Sonido, Enero del

J4000x3000-00033
Workshop participants

[1]     Bárbara Santos, Badu-Kolkata, June 15th, 2016
[2]     Coordinated by Bárbara Santos (Madalena-Berlin) and Christoph Leucht (KIKMA).
[3]    An aesthetic investigation on oppression faced by women.

[4]    see: Till Baumann: Noisy dialogues – some remarks on tablas and plastic barrels”, in: Dia Da Costa: Scripting Power. Jana Sanskriti On and Offstage, Kolkata 2010.
[5]    see: Bárbara Santos: „Teatro do Oprimido, Raízes e Asas: uma teoria da práxis”, Rio de Janeiro 2016.

[6]    A topic with high relevance in West Bengal. Similar topics were proposed during the Sound/Rhythm processes in Guatemala (2012) and Bolivia (2014). This tells a lot about global capitalism and its consequences.

[7]    Exercise created by Till Baumann during the collaboration with Jana Sanskriti and ATG Halle at Muktadhara Festival in Badu (2010).

[8]    „Badú“, poem by María Zikín (Nicaragua), inspired by the workshop Aesthetics of the Oppressed – Sound/Rhythm at the IV Latin American  Theatre of the Oppressed Meeting, Matagalpa/Nicaragua, January 2016 (text see below).

[9]    The centre of Jana Sanskriti in Badu.

Dynamic Image, Cantastoria & Giant Puppets

Theatre and Picture Story in Bengal

April 3rd, a group of 15 gathered in the newly inaugurated Augusto Boal auditorium at the home of Jana Sanskriti at Badu,Kolkata to spend 6 days learning how to create Cantastoria— a form of picture story performance— and how to build giant puppets and bring them to life through dynamic image theatre.

The workshop was facilitated by Tamara Lynne, visiting artist from Portland, Oregon (USA), Founder and Creative Director of the Theatre organization, Living Stages. Workshop participants included primary school teachers from the villages of South 24 Parganas as well as long-time members of Jana Sanskriti. This workshop is part of the first season of activities at JSSIRI, the Jana Sanskriti International Research and Resource Institute, which was inaugurated in November 2015.

During the workshop, participants engaged in community-building games to strengthen connection, focus and energy, developed lists of issues faced in the village communities, practiced theatre to understand connections between these issues, and designed long paper scrolls of pictures exploring topics of education, health and unemployment and the impact of these on village children.

IMG_5992

Once the scrolls were painted, the groups developed songs and stories for each scroll and began to rehearse the presentations.

Cantastoria run through

After this we began the Puppets! Using cardboard, newspaper and a flour and water paste, participants began to construct the giant puppet heads and design the face and features. Building up the face with paper mache, layering strips of newspaper dipped in paste over cardboard, they created eyebrows, nose, eyes and lips; each puppet had a unique shape and personality and represented familiar roles: The Politician, The Capitalist and The Common Man.

Cardboard and paper mache

After letting the paper mache dry overnight, the puppets were painted in vibrant colors, and puppet heads and hands attached to bamboo poles. Clothes were added using tape and needle and thread, and the puppets were finally up on their feet!

Puppet head drying after paint

Puppet head drying

Attaching hair

Adding hair

Painting the Capitalist

Capitalist painting

The final day, the team took one of the giant puppets out into the neighborhood to invite the community to the presentation, and children as well as adults of Badu joined Jana Sanskriti for an event performance of Puppets and Cantastoria. Owing to the on-going West Bengal elections, the group could not travel to the villages to perform.

Outreach with Puppets

Outreach with puppet 2

Jpeg

Performance

Jpeg

During the performance, Jana Sanskriti made an additional innovation in the Cantastoria, inviting neighborhood children onto the stage to identify the frames in the picture where something could be done and urging them to share their ideas of responses and possible solutions. Cantastoria-forum was born!

 

As the Shadows Rise

Cage in the Bird ShadyLib JSIRRI18

JSIRRI launched its 2016 public workshop series last week with a Shadow Liberation workshop facilitated by Evan Hastings. The workshop engaged 13 students from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru, along with six members from Jana Sanskriti to create an original Forum play on gender violence.

ShadyLib JSIRRI10

In this workshop, the participants engaged with Jana Sanskriti’s dramatic methods and Shadow Liberation’s highly visual approach to theatre dialogue in order to devise a dynamic piece that was performed for the public.

ShadyLib JSIRRI05

“Realisation of change sometime comes from within people and cannot be imposed upon them by others.” 

The workshop started with a series of games to demechanize the senses and dialogue about patriarchy and misogyny. For example, the variation of Colombian Hypnosis with one person in the middle with extended hands being followed by two people, whose hands are being followed by two more people. This was played with the central character speaking a monologue from the point of view of patriarchy while  leading the movements of the others with hand gestures. In addition to the leader/follower dynamic of Colombian Hypnosis, the debrief of this activity also got into the idea of ideological proximity. Some of us are closer to the core beliefs of patriarchy, while others distance ourselves, but make no mistake, we are all affected.  In our Forum Plays, we can use this idea of ideological proximity when considering bystander characters or other potential allies in our scenes. To what extent do we, and do our characters, carry the oppressive ideology that we are struggling against?

The participants also went into sudden, uncomfortable silent zones while exploring the oppressed-oppressor relationships through Image Theatre. This gave raise to personal reflection and sharing that gave material for the development of the play.

Sexual Harrassment in the Bus ShadyLib JSIRRI16

“Issues considered a taboo in terms of thoughts, actions and/or conversations in the society have to be questioned and deconstructed.”

Leading up to the workshop, the participants traveled to Kochuberiya, a village tucked away in the Sunderbans, West Bengal, to watch Jana Sanskriti’s all-women team conduct a community Forum Theatre event.

ShadyLib JSIRRI02

A group of ten women entered the village in bright yellow and red sarees, walked on to the Manch (the stage), and huddled up for an energetic performance. They brought to light issues ranging from girls’ education to dowry deaths, through a vibrant display of characters.

ShadyLib JSIRRI04
The power of the play was palpable and the intimate setting was conducive to personal interactions between workshop participants and village residents.

The show was culturally rooted, integrating folk dance and mask forms, and the energy levels were high throughout the performance as they were singing, dancing and acting simultaneously.

“When the play ended and the forum began, the local men either maintained distance or left the forum space. This also goes to show that forum theatre in villages is intimate and requires courage because the participants are going to be facing the other villagers on an everyday basis.”

ShadyLib JSIRRI03

After the village the students went to Lok Indie Studio, a theatre group in Kolkata, to collaboratively devise and produce a two-minute short-film overnight. 

The workshop in Badu continued with Theatre of the Oppressed based activities adapted to the Shadow stage with the aim of learning Shadow Theatre techniques while developing a more critical perspective. As everyone warmed up, the investigation of patriarchy, power structures and gender specific violence grew deeper.

Working in the Dark ShadyLib JSIRRI13

“Women internalize the idea of being the weaker sex in their minds and patriarchy is further entrenched with women becoming partners in reinforcing the concept.”

The participants experimented with the shadows, lights and equipment to create a sequence of short acts depicting forms of  gender violence. Shadows lend themselves to the representation of traumatic memories, dreams and the unspeakable.  In front of the screen on-stage performers enact problematized social encounters to complicate the abstract Shadow representations and invite audience intervention into concrete situations.

ShadyLib JSIRRI15

The workshop cultivated a safe space for the participants to move through emotions, deal with differences within the group and function as a collective while holding ourselves accountable for the part we play in the system of patriarchy and rape culture.

ShadyLib JSIRRI17

“I took away lessons of feeling the moment and being present,” expressed a student.

Sanjoy Ganguly, author and director of Jana Sanskriti,  graced the workshop with an exercise and dialogue about the journey from Being to Becoming. Sanjoy spoke about the importance of Love in this work and shared stories from his decades of experience practicing Theatre of the Oppressed in rural West Bengal, India.

ShadyLib JSIRRI09

On February 25, the original Forum play developed in the workshop met a live audience for the first time in the Augusto Boal auditorium at Girish Bhavan in Badu, Kolkata. The audience was full of women and children from the surrounding area, who were riveted by the visually lush performance.

ShadyLib JSIRRI27

During the Forum, spectators sprung to the stage offering interventions into scenes depicting sexual harassment on public transportation and work, as well as a scene depicting a woman facing lack of family support while attempting to leave her marriage because of marital rape.

ShadyLib JSIRRI25

The Jana Sanskriti team reflected on the session and one of them stated, “There was a powerplay even among the spectators, wherein some women came on to the stage and interacted while the other belonging to lower strata did not. But, the ideas echoed in their minds too, which is important.”

The workshop culminated in a public performance at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kolkata. The lively auditorium roared with spectators ready to jump on the stage. The students and other public reacted to situations spontaneously, and when the 1.5 hour Forum concluded, the audience longed for more.

Balloons ShadyLib JSIRRI12

Puppets ShadyLib JSIRRI08

In a scene depicting sexual harassment at work, when the boss flicked the earring of a female employee, one of the spectactors, who replaced a co-employee, slapped the boss and threw a pad at him to protest his actions. The audience clapped and responded saying they would react similarly to such situations.

ShadyLib JSIRRI23

“It was interesting how we did not know until the last couple of days that we are putting up a full-fledged show. Whatever we created through our sessions pieced together beautifully in our final performance”

Performance at NIFT organized by LOK ShadyLib JSIRRI28

The workshop was filled with moments of humor, serious reflections, uncomfortable silences, creative expressions through shadows, art and dance, as people from different cultural contexts worked together to create truly meaningful theatre.

Click here to know more about upcoming 2016 activities.

Mission

We are a non-profit organization, with a strong basis in emancipator theatre (Theatre of the Oppressed), pedagogy and activism.

JSIRRI ‘s intention is to explore how Theatre of the Oppressed and related theatre and art forms can foster a culture of dialogue, strengthen participation and stimulate liberation by engaging with a wide range of disciplines and fields of work.

As a globally active arts hub JSIRRI connects artists and activists, practitioners and researchers both south to south and south to north, virtually and physically.

International connectivity, inclusion of all sections of society and interdisciplinary of approaches are fundamental to us.