Muktadhara – VII
(Bi-annual International Forum Theatre Festival)
05th December 2016 – 20th December 2016
Jana Sanskriti Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed
The important reason for organizing this Bi-annual International Forum Theatre Festival is that it becomes an international meeting ground for Forum Theatre teams as well as those trained by Jana Sanskriti all over India. Each of these teams is active in their own regions; most of them are also heading organizations engaged in struggles to assert the rights of the marginalized. Though all these teams are linked to each other through their commitment to the Forum Theatre movement, they have had very little opportunity to interact with each other and see each other’s work. At this Festival we were able to provide this valuable opportunity. This interaction has, as seen from the last six festivals, no doubt imbibed each individual and team with the feeling that they are not alone in this challenging task of establishing dialogue in society.
Friends from Muktadhara 2014
Usually Forum Theatre is performed before audiences who are also facing the problem portrayed in the play. Since problem solving and understanding the problem sociologically through collective action is the primary intention, the spectators and actors form a homogenous group. But in this Festival like the previous six that we had, we will again try to have all kinds of interest groups involved and interested in theatre of the oppressed in the audience, from all over the world! Since Forum Theatre allows room for debate and discussion, the audiences emerge from the experience with a more humane outlook.
Finally, the name ‘Muktadhara’! ‘Mukta’ means free and ‘Dhara’ is a flowing stream. A flow that is free from dogma and all those structural constructs that prevent dialogue between people, is what is implied by the term Muktadhara – celebrating movement in peace and togetherness! This is when the glory of development is said to have taken place – participation in togetherness.
Description of Muktadhara festivals
In the last 6 editions we have witnessed an ever increasing number of sincere TO artists and activists who are interested to explore Jana Sanskriti. So we thought that perhaps it would only be fair to announce the festival at the earliest as this would give time to those, young and passionate, to collect and gather resources which are necessary to travel to India to participate in this festival.
Muktadhara 2016 will be formatted in a style similar to that of 2014 beginning with a 4 day workshop by Dr. Sanjoy Ganguly at Badu – a suburban village where Girish Bhavan, the administrative center of the organization is located. (Please find attached Dr. Sanjoy Ganguly’s profile for reference). The season in December will be winter and the weather will be cool. The workshop will take place as usual at the mango garden, near Girish Bhavan and these sessions will be followed by tea breaks and lunch. As evening falls and darkness sets in, we will continue to work for another hour or two. When the last bird has gone back home to her nest, we will break for the day.
Sanjoy Ganguly’s workshop
Participants will then have two choices, either to go away or lose themselves in the narrow roads of Badu village and find themselves in places like the nearby market or they may join us at Girish Bhavan to contemplate in quietness the beauty of Indian classical music, ragas, as played out either by a particular instrument such as the sitar or there might be vocal performances. Not all the evenings will be spent this way. There will also be such evenings when we will assemble at the mango garden again to witness the beauty, life and vigor of Bengali folk dances such as Gambhira, Chau, Natua etc. We will end the day with dinner and retire to our places of stay for the night and meet each other again the following morning for breakfast.
Raibeshe during Muktadhara 2008
After the 4 day workshop by Dr. Sanjoy Ganguly, Inauguration of the performing part of the festival will take place at the wonderful ICCR auditorium at Kolkata. Remaining part of the festival will be taken to the villages of the district of South 24 Parganas where Jana Sanskriti operates. The participants apart from enjoying the nature of rural Bengal will have a firsthand experience of the practice of Theatre of the Oppressed among the marginalized communities – in this case, agricultural workers. The participants are not subject to the hardships of village life but it acts as an exposure albeit in comparatively comfortable living conditions.
Muktadhara 2014 Inauguration at ICCR
The plays which you will be constructed in Sanjoy’s workshop will be played out before the audiences in the village – several thousands of them. We shall witness how humanity comes together to create understanding about the issues causing oppression and offer pathways to one another. It is indeed special to see humanity mix and mingle re-examining, constructing thoughts and practices. After rounding up the performing part of the festival in the villages, tired and exhausted participants will return after four days to their base at Badu.
Team from Maharashtra at Muktadhara 2006
The day after is the last day of the festival and is usually spent in some serious reflection about ideological and practical issues facing Theatre of the Oppressed in general and there is also an evaluation of the festival and further questions and answers regarding what had been witnessed in the villages combined with the practical and theoretical knowledge participants have about Jana Sanskriti and their own work back home.This discussion session is followed by a special dinner.
We hope you enjoyed reading this briefing of what a ‘Muktadhara’ festival is like. We further hope that this will serve as a motivation for you to register your names and do the necessary in order for you to be here with us for 15 days to personally witness what Boal termed, “The largest and the longest lasting forum theatre operation in the world”.
To participate and know more, write to firstname.lastname@example.org