UWC Mahindra College monthly newsletter

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Shadow Liberation - theatre season 2012

Thanks to Evan Hastings and the students of Shrishti College Bangalore for stopping off on their tour to Pune to spend an evening with us. 

Arriving at 5.00 in the evening, the team of twenty worked like ants to transform the MPH into a theatre with a shadow screen deftly strung between pillars and wings hastily erected either side. A simple but effective lighting design, constant interjections of recorded music, and a few delightful shadow-play story telling techniques brought their theatre to life – a theatre that was more about interaction than acting, and also about a confessional process that had already happened before the event.

For several months the actors had prepared this presentation by sharing stories and reflections about Indian women in oppressive or abusive relationships of one kind or another.  Parental attitudes, stereotypes, domestic violence and ‘eve teasing’ were acted out as a series of brief scenarios into which the audience was invited to interject in a Boal inspired Forum Theatre consideration of the dynamics of very common tensions: “You’re not going out tonight, even if your brother is”, “Why did he hit me?”, “Mum, I’m a lesbian” … 

The overall good humour and friendliness of the group was engaging and brought out some empassioned interjections from the spectactors - in particular, our decidedly feminist theatre students! Whether or not these rather Western suggestions were in any way revealing or helpful given the specifically Indian context was debatable (perhaps Howard’s introduction of a guiding friend on the male side was more urgently / realistically to the point?), yet there certainly was the kind of interaction that makes this type of theatre genuinely thought-provoking and, potentially, genuinely world-changing.

It only just finished by check-in, by which time all who were there had been thoroughly entertained and felt genuinely involved in some way. Shadow Liberation is traveling about India making a difference with enormous commitment and energy.

Benedict Clark
Head of Aesthetics

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