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Participatory Theatre with IIM, Ahmedabad

Chharas teach theatre to IIMA students.

Members of the community, once known as a colony of born criminals, are conducting classes on Budhan theatre
- Dhwani Pathak Dave,
Posted On Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 03:01:21 AM

Chharas, who were once labelled “born criminals”, are now conducting classes at one of India’s premier management schools. A group of youngsters from the community are teaching Budhan theatre to students of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, (IIMA). Remarkably, some of these youngsters have never attended school, but they are now visiting a campus known for academic brilliance.

Learning Budhan theatre — a powerful tool that Chharas have been using to highlight a range of community issues and bring about social change — is part an elective chosen by IIMA’s PGP-II students. The course, known as participatory theatre for development, is a component of the institute’s Public Systems Group.

Chharas, students share their problems
A course coordinator at IIMA said that Chharas started taking classes on February 4. “It’s a 14-day programme,” he said. Interestingly, no textbooks are involved. Students and Chharas sit together and share their problems. “Empathy cannot be taught. This is an effort to create a society with empathetic leaders, communicators and decision-makers. There is no textual way to do this,” he said.

The coordinator said that Budhan theatre was not a traditional medium where actors played different roles. “It a powerful form of political and development theatre where enactors are part of a social change. It is a form that involves more group processes,” he said. Radhe Shyam, an IIMA student who has opted for the elective, said that he always wanted to be part of an activity aimed at bringing about social development.

Another student, Meenakshi Deogram, said that Bhudhan theatre was more about reacting than acting. “In the traditional form, we just blurt out dialogues given to us. We don’t react. In Bhudhan, we try to understand what the other person has gone through,” she said. Meenakshi has found friends in Chharas visiting the campus. She, in fact, plans to gift them a computer after completing the course.

Chharanagar, IIMA two different worlds
“Theatre is a medium that touches everyone. It instils a lot of confidence in participants,” Kalpana Gagdekar of the Budhan theatre group said. She pointed out that IIMA and Chharanagar were two completely different worlds. “Chharas who are conducting workshops at IIMA have never been to the campus before. In fact, they had not even seen the institutes’ gates. Visiting the campus and interacting with students has boosted their confidence.”

Kajal Sashi (20), who is a part of Budhan theatre group, said that she was initially nervous about interacting with IIMA students. “When I first came here, I didn’t know how I would talk to students and share my issues. However, now I have made some friends with whom I can discuss my problems,” she said. Sangita, also a Chhara, said before she joined the theatre group, she had seen little of the world outside her home.

Chharas who are conducting workshops at IIMA had never even seen its gates before. Interacting with students has boosted their confidence – Kalpana Gagdekar of Budhan group

When I first came here, I didn’t know how to talk to students. However, now I have made some friends – Kajal Sashi of Budhan theatre

I always wanted to be part of an activity aimed at bringing about social change – Radhe Shyam, IIMA student

Invitation to watch play Accidental Death of an Anarchist – By Budhan Theatre

Poster of Accidental Death of an Anarchist 1

Dear Budhan Theatre Freinds,

You are cordially invited to watch opening performance of renowned play  ‘Accidental death of an Anarchist’ Written by Daria Fo, Italian Playwrite and Nobel Prize Laureate. Produced by Budhan Theatre and Directed by Dakxin Chhara-Bajrange. Please mark your calender. Sunday, the 13th September 4, 2009 from 7.30 to 9.00 PM. Gates will close at 7.20 PM. Please take your seat before 7.20 PM.

Venue:

L & P Hutheesingh Visual Arts centre, CEPT University, K. L. Campus, Gujarat University Road, Ahmedabad 380 009

About Play:

Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1970) responds to events unfolding in Italy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Generally, it looks at police corruption and suspicions regarding the government’s collusion in this corruption. More specifically, it addresses the actual death of an anarchist who was being held in police custody following the bombing of a Milan bank that killed sixteen people and wounded about ninety. The police asserted that the anarchist’s death was a suicide, that the man threw himself from a fourth-floor window in despair at being found out for his crime. At the subsequent inquest, the presiding judge declared the death not a suicide but an accident. Most Italians believed that the death was the result of overly harsh interrogation techniques, if not a case of outright murder on the part of the interrogators.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist is mainly about police corruption, underscored by the play’s focus on impersonation, infiltration, and double-talk. A fast-talking major character, the Maniac, infiltrates a police headquarters. Posing as an investigating judge, he tricks the policemen into contradicting themselves and admitting that they are part of a cover-up involving the death of an anarchist. In infiltrating police headquarters by misrepresenting himself (impersonation), the Maniac reminds audiences of how most political groups in Italy, particularly left-wing groups, were infiltrated by police agents who acted as informers. The Maniac’s flip-flop of point of view and statement achieves much the same effect as his impersonations do. His confusing speechifying leads to the police contradicting themselves, so that the Maniac, in all of his deceptions and distortions, is a precise reflection of what the play is designed to expose.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist is one of Fo’s most popular plays both within and outside Italy. It has played around the world over the years to millions of people, a popular choice of directors who want to point to corruption in their midst.

Budhan Theatre, Chharanagar is committed to empowering the marginalized and bringing dignity and respect to the stigmatized sections of the society.  Budhan Theatre has been active since 1998.

Visit of DNT commission in Ahmedabad.

Budhan theatre took the issue of rehabilitation of a ghetto of DNT in Maninagar Bast before 10 years. Along with the support of the students of DAIICT, Gandhinagar, Shyam Benegal Veteran film maker has stood with budhan theatre and took the issue. As a result the DNT comission was forced to visit the locality. It visited the locality of May 16, 2007.

Report about Maninagar Basti Demolition

It was 8th Feb. 2007. It was 12th time. Municipal Corporation people demolish Nomadic people’s huts in Maninagar Area of Ahmedabad city which going to be a Maga City on the death bodies of poor people, to destroy their dreams.

People now about to migration. We started to educate children of this Basti with help of ‘Sambhav’ Group which is a volunteer social work group of the students of the DAIICT Collage, Gandhinagar. Everyday children have to scattered, as all the time people of Corporation with the Police force used to come in the Basti and force to them ‘Run Away’ from the area. Children, Woman, old age people are tired to face this situation. We tried to get alternate houses from Corporation to do a multiple applications but all in vain! They ever tried to write a latter in reference of our correspondence.

Last letter to the commissioner on behalf of all the people of nomadic Basti is posted online. Also in this application, having details about applications which we done in the past.

We tried to establish dialogue with collector of Ahmedabad City. But at last Collector of Ahmedabad denied to corporation to allot land to settle those nomadic people in Ahmedabad.

About 2000 nomadic people, who settled in this area in 60s and 70s, are not having documentary proofs what corporations needs. Thousands of houses which was build up for the poor people are empty like a ‘Ghost Houses’ because still corporation is following 1976’s police for rehabilitation of poor people.

People are suffering lot. It is a hot summer in Ahmedabad. People can not go for earning as they having threat that corporation people will come so in that case, where our children and woman will go!
People are lying with empty stomach…children are roaming and running here and there to unaware about there ‘Dark Future’ which is making by insensitive people who having only interest to develop ‘Concrete Jungle’.

We are trying to establish dialogue with Corporation People…But at this time these nomadic people are pointing towards us…Still they are waiting for help and 10*10 lands where their dream can be
come true.

Awaiting,

Dakxin Chhara
Budhan Theatre