Diversity Dialogues

National Theatre of the Oppressed Conference

This event has now concluded successfully.

!The Presentations

 Saturday 29.11.2014  Sunday 30.11.2014 
 Session V - 12.00 - 13.30
Workshops : 

 Session II - 09.00 - 10.30          Liberatory Pedagogies Panel 2 (1) 
 A. Radical Testimonies of our time Lokesh Jain 1. Critical Engagement with young                 people in the Indian contextAnita Ratnam &
Benson Issac 
 B. Oppressed beyond a point Chindu  2.Facing It   Jaya Iyer
 C. Chhaya Dialogue Evan Hastings 3.The Joker System Shekhar Seshadri 
 Session VI -  Panel 1 - : 14.30 - 16.30 
Women Enact Social Change
  Session IV-  11.30 - 13.30
Liberatory Pedagogises-Panel 2 (2)
 1Women's Lives, Women's Words CS Lakshmi 1.Dissenting voices in MaharashtraRamu Ramanathan  
 2. Women as Spect-activists Sima Ganguly 2.Does the system intend to liberate the      children?         Abhishek Goswami  
 3.Breaking the culture of silence - a TO                experiment with tribal artists in Gujarat in      1999-2000 Aditi Desai 3. Liberatory Education for doctors   Navjeevan Singh  
 4. My experiences in using theatre and                TO with women Sushama  Deshpande  4. Healing Minds and TORajani Ramachandran  &
Neha Naqvi 

   Session V - 14.30 - 15.30                             Discussion: Is there a 'real TO'? 
   1. Compassionate Connections Neela Gupta
   2.TO as a resource for facilitation Lalitha Iyer
   3.The Importance of Naming  Radha  Ramaswamy 

Saturday 29.11.2014

Session V - Workshops : 29.11.2014 : 12.00 - 13.30

Radical testimonies of our time                                                       Lokesh Jain                                      Auditorium                   TOP

I will begin with my performance “Akkarmashi” (The Outcaste) dramatising the pain, sorrow, suffering, and torment of oppression in the name of caste. 
The forum after the performance will bring out the different stories, and the thoughts and voices of the people hidden inside them.
I will then share the TO journey of tribal women’s groups from Orissa, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. 
Finally, I will express how this inspirational source is reflected in my creative journey.

Session V - Workshops : 29.11.2014 : 12.00 - 13.30 

Oppressed beyond a point                                                                  Sabrina, Suresh, Sudhathi                Hall 2                           TOP

This workshop will image the story of an oppression and initiate an action for reality. There is a  point of climax for the oppression. For the oppressed it is the point of losing tolerance, and the beginning of the resistance that initiates from her/his body-mind.
In Theatre of the Oppressed it is important for us (actors and spect-actors) to explore our feelings and experiences and introduce our own characters to support other characters in the story with whom we closely connect. 
Session V - Workshops : 29.11.2014 : 12.00 - 13.30                                                                                                                                

Chhaya Dialogue: Shadow Aesthetics in Forum Theatre     Evan Hastings                                    Hall 1                          TOP

In the street and in our minds, the shadows of oppression dance against the fabric of society. By facing the shadows and crafting dynamic aesthetic theatre about undercurrents of oppression, objectification and violence, Shadow Liberation creates engaging dialogues to provoke awareness and social action. In this workshop, participants will be introduced to Shadow Liberation's process of devising Forum Theatre from personal stories of the unseen impacts of Gender Violence and Oppression. Through hands-on Shadow Theatre techniques, participants will experience a sample of Shadow Liberation's process of devising Forum Theatre.

Session VI - Panel 1 : 29.11.2014 : 14.30 - 16.30

Rehearsal for Revolution-Women Enact Social Change

Women’s Lives, Women’s Words: Archiving 

Knowledge for Education                                                                   CS Lakshmi                                           Auditorium               TOP

The presentation will explain briefly how and why for the last 25 years SPARROW has been archiving women’s history and women’s lives in many different ways: through oral history documentation, print and visual collection, exhibitions, publications, cultural festivals, writers’ meets and workshops with students.  Two projects based on SPARROW’ s mission and activities will be discussed : 

 1. A project to link culture and education through documentation, drama and dissemination.

2. Knowledge for Power, Knowledge for Change - a project meant to set up audio-visual centres for girls of school-going age, young girls and women in two villages in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. 
Session VI - Panel 1 : 29.11.2014 : 14.30 - 16.30 

Rehearsal for Revolution-Women Enact Social Change

Women as spect-activists - the Jana Sanskriti experience     Sima Ganguly                                   Auditorium                   TOP

In Jana Sanskriti’s theatre Spect-actors become, according to our Director, Spect-activists. Among our Spect-activists, women are more in number than men. However, participation and sole authority are not the same thing. In positions of leadership men are still the majority. But women actors in Jana Sanskriti lead the way in human rights work. Jana Sanskriti has 40,000 members in its organisation of spectators and the numbers of women in this body are not small at all.

This presentation will deal with how patriarchy was fought in the society and in the family through theatre and how in this process empowerment went from being a mere definition to an actuality felt by the people.
Session VI - Panel 1 : 29.11.2014 : 14.30 - 16.30  

Rehearsal for Revolution-Women Enact Social Change 

Breaking the culture of silence : a TO experiment  with                                                                                                                         tribal artists in  Gujarat in 1999-2000                                                         Aditi Desai                                                Auditorium                   TOP

TO came into my life when I was creatively dissatisfied, after conducting 60-70 street theatre workshops and performances all over Gujarat and in few places of Rajasthan. Games for Actors and Non Actors by Boal changed my life.

A MacArthur Fellowship gave me an opportunity to use TO for two years with two teams of tribal artists. Amazing results came from merging tribal art with TO, learning about the status of women and the reality of women’s health, and challenging myths .

But, the status of women in the team did not change.

Questions to be discussed :

1: Does TO remain merely a technique or become a part of life for women artists?

2: Looking at today’s changing scenario, what changes do we introduce in TO in order to make it more effective?
Session VI - Panel 1 : 29.11.2014 : 14.30 - 16.30 

Rehearsal for Revolution-Women enact Social Change

My experiences in using theatre and TO with women             Sushama Deshpande                       Auditorium                   TOP

I will briefly narrate some of my experiences in theatre first, including my performance of Savitribai, and being interviewed for the project ' Women in Indian Theatre' by Betty Bernhard of Pomona School. I then narrate how I discovered Theatre of the Oppressed, and attended workshops with Boal.  I discovered the flexible way of TO, used TO to create a play with sex workers, and the LGBT community, and am using TO techniques in Theatre. Finally, I discuss some questions this raised for me, regarding the use of TO in Indian culture. 

 Sunday 30.11.2014

Session II - Panel 2 : Part 1 : 30.11.2014 : 09.00 - 10.30

From Monologue to Dialogue - Liberatory Pedagogies in the Indian Context

Critical Engagement with Young People in the Indian Context-                                                                                             the scope  and challenges of Liberatory Pedagogies                Anita Ratnam                                   Auditorium                   TOP                                                                                                                                Benson Issac

Efforts to address emerging forms of exclusion and violence have proved immensely challenging as these demand dislodging entrenched notions of self and society, and fostering new ways of thinking, feeling, seeing and acting. 

While the use of TO has opened several possibilities, it has also thrown up complex questions in terms of what it means to endow experience with meaning, to reflect on self-hood and our subjectivities, and to redefine identities, values and worldviews in the contemporary Indian context. Based on Samvada’s  experiences  of  youth sensitisation, mobilisation, empowerment and education, the scope  for the use of TO  will be juxtaposed with frameworks of liberatory pedagogy that have guided  each intervention. 

The need for grounding such interventions in a critical analysis of societal structures, in an understanding of youth-hood as a site of personal and social change and in a holistic understanding of youth-work will be highlighted.

Session II - Panel 2 : Part 1 : 30.11.2014 : 09.00 - 10.30 

From Monologue to Dialogue - Liberatory Pedagogies in the Indian Context

Facing it                                                                                                     Jaya Iyer                                                Auditorium                   TOP

Jaya shares her experiences of using and working with TO methods in urban communities. Her sharing is a combination of confessions about cops in the head and  personal memoirs of working with Boal and his team.aya shares her experiences of using and working with TO methods in urban communities. 

Session II - Panel 2 : Part 1 : 30.11.2014 : 09.00 - 10.30 

From Monologue to Dialogue - Liberatory Pedagogies in the Indian Context

The Joker System                                                                                   Shekhar Seshadri                             Auditorium                   TOP

Augusto Boal's Joker System is not as well known or practised as his remarkable range of TO techniques.  The principal aim of the Joker System is to question the reality of the world as it is represented in the dramatic text (and as it is conventionally reproduced in performance) in order to explore alternate ways of representing and interpreting that world. Thus, there is simultaneously in the performance both the play and its analysis. 

The presenter has used the system to work with children and youth, activists, developmental workers covering a range of human themes like trauma, gender, sexuality, conflict and so on. The seven steps in the Joker System are used to develop a new performance piece. This presentation will explain the seven steps and how this constitutes a powerful process-based approach for personal and social transformation.

Session IV - Panel 2 : Part 2 : 30.11.2014 : 11.30 - 13.30  

From Monologue to Dialogue - Liberatory Pedagogies in the Indian Context

Dissenting voices in Maharashtra                                                   Ramu Ramanathan                               Auditorium                   TOP

There are some groups which are integrating the idea of radical human rights movement in Mumbai and  Pune.                                      

I will talk about these groups and individuals. 

The source of their inspiration is the Ambedkarite-Marxist movement and its ideology.

How the wounds of the assault and humiliation and injustice have given these groups the energy to fight back. 

I will try to provide an overview of what is happening in Maharashtra today. 

Session IV - Panel 2 : Part 2 : 30.11.2014 : 11.30 - 13.30 

From Monologue to Dialogue - Liberatory Pedagogies in the Indian Context

Does the  system intend to liberate the children?                     Abhishek Goswami                                 Auditorium                   TOP

Working with teachers and teacher educators for their professional development, I came across several theories on consciousness. But amongst all the theories of consciousness, only Freire and Boal propose it as a concrete, practical and applicable concept. Their formulation is based on the understanding that social change is not possible without change within the individual.

In this presentation, I shall trace my journey in theatre from a child artist to a teacher educator of drama in education. The question I shall ask:  ‘Does the  system really wish to liberate the children?’
Session IV - Panel 2 : Part 2 : 30.11.2014 : 11.30 - 13.30 

From Monologue to Dialogue - Liberatory Pedagogies in the Indian Context

Liberatory education for doctors                                                             Navjeevan Singh                                    Auditorium                   TOP

First of all, what is education? Can illiteracy and education co-exist?  Is going to school, college etc  essential to being educated? Is not education, in itself, liberatory? But liberation from what? 

Coming to doctors, is an educated Doctor a Good Doctor? Does the present medical education equip the young medical student with the qualities essential in a Good Doctor?

If not, what needs to change?

Can a liberatory pedagogy such as TO transform a ‘merely competent’ physician into a Good Doctor- the kind of doctor we all desire? I will share some of our experiences at the University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, with using Theatre of the Oppressed techniques with medical students and doctors. 
Session IV - Panel 2 : Part 2 : 30.11.2014 : 11.30 - 13.30 

From Monologue to Dialogue - Liberatory Pedagogies in the Indian Context

Healing Minds and TO                                                                                     Rajani Ramachandran                        Auditorium                   TOP                                                                                                                                                   Neha Naqvi

In September this year a motley group from the U.K and India came together for a project, “Act for Change in India: Healing minds”. The aim was to encourage open discussion about mental health, destigmatise mental illness and improve access to  health care. The medium was Forum Theatre. 

We discuss two facets from our experience on this project. First, how the use of TO facilitated the making of a powerful play that diverse communities could relate to. And second, the challenges we faced in the application of the Forum Theatre structure to mental health. 

Discussion - Is there a 'real TO’? When does TO become ‘not TO’? 

Compassionate Connections                                                               Neela Gupta                                             Auditorium                   TOP

The essence of TO lies in empowering every human being to be able to  think, speak and act independently.  TO inspires the audience to become 'spect-actors, to  help build a happier, just and  compassionate society. Boal calls this a non violent aesthetic movement which seeks peace, not passivity.

For the ‘Spect- actor’ to walk into the shoes of the other requires deep listening and empathy. There are several techniques and processes which help us get rooted in these skills. Non Violent Communication is one of them.

What if we blend TO with Non Violent Communication which takes us deep into ourselves and connects us with another human being,  explaining  through its 4 step process (Observation, Feelings, Needs and Requests) what drives us. Would it help if we had access to know, understand and be empathetic to where we are coming from and where the other person is coming from and then create a middle ground from there? 

Session V : 30.11.2014 : 14.30 - 15.30 

Discussion - Is there a 'real TO’? When does TO become ‘not TO’?

s a resource for facilitation                                                                            Lalitha Iyer                                               Auditorium                   TOP

I often find myself working with large groups. My task usually is to help the groups surface their emotions and work through them so that they come to an agreement on the way ahead. I’d like to share a couple of situations where I find what I learnt in TO very relevant.

In Appreciative Inquiry, the facilitator tries to discover what is working well and amplify it. I find TO activities very useful even though they seem to focus on conflicts and oppression. Columbian Hypnosis or Carnival in Rio are useful in breaking set patterns and hierarchies.

Role plays are helpful in identifying typical challenges in collaborating or coming together. When I find the group bogged down in their negative experiences, I have been able to build on the role plays with a Forum play which releases the group from hopelessness.

Session V : 30.11.2014 : 14.30 - 15.30  

Discussion - Is there a 'real TO’? When does TO become ‘not TO’?

The Importance of Naming                                                                               Radha Ramaswamy                               Auditorium                   TOP

I will share my  understanding of the differences that I perceive between Theatre of the Oppressed (TO)  as created by Boal and Theatre for Living (TfL) as conceptualised and practised by David Diamond.  Exploring my own evolution as a TO practitioner, I examine some modifications and adaptations that provoke the question: when does TO cease to become TO and demand another name?