Diversity Dialogues

National Theatre of the Oppressed Conference

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Abhishek Goswami    

Azim Premji Foundation, Jaipur

Abhishek has a postgraduate degree in dramatic arts, has acted in and directed more than 30 plays for children and adults. He has facilitated production oriented workshops with children of ages 8 - 16. Abhishek has had a long and enduring association with theatre in education. Recently, he conceptualized and facilitated a fifteen days’ Foundation Course on drama in education for teachers and and teacher educators from various parts of the country. 

Abhishek has received training in Theatre of the Oppressed, in German methods of Theatre Pedagogy, and pedagogy for Shakespeare in the classroom. He runs a Jaipur based theatre group called BREATHING SPACE for adults and children.

Aditi Desai

Jashwant Thaker Memorial Foundation, Ahmedabad 

Under the guidance of eminent theatre person and her father Jashwant Thaker, Aditi has pursued a career in theatre from her childhood.Her key areas of interest include theatre work, video film making,development of popular educational material, working on the theme of 'gender and theatre' and developing media and campaign strategies. After acting in mainstream and experimental theatre for ten years,

Aditi pioneered street theatre performances on women's issues in Ahmedabad. She then conducted street theatre workshops and training programmes on various developmental issues in rural areas with tribal women. In 1997 ,  a two-year MacArthur Fellowship enabled her to prepare two tribal troupes to work on the issue of women's health in partnership with local NGOs of Gujarat using their local forms of theatre while combining them with Theatre of The Oppressed techniques. 

Anita Ratnam


Anita is the Founder and Executive Director of Samvada – a Bangalore based youth centric organisation. Samvada is committed to social justice and affirmative action, gender sensitivity and cultural diversity at the workplace.Anita serves on the Board of many other trusts focussing on youth, education and social justice.

Anita has conceptualised, designed and executed educational and training modules and workshops in areas of youth empowerment and has contributed to many research projects pertaining to farmers, youth and women. Anita has numerous presentations and publications to her credit. 

Benson Issac

Azim Premji University, Bangalore

Trained in urban and rural community development from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Benson Issac has been working in the development sector for over 12 years. He has been associated with child rights issues, anti-communalism initiatives, has worked for Greenpeace as a climate change campaigner and also worked as faculty of Social Work at St. Joseph's College. 

Through his involvement with Samvada he has done extensive work in sensitising and mobilising youth around social change, trained youth in alternative livelihoods and contributed to developing the body of knowledge around youth studies. Exploring the politics of knowledge and traditional livelihoods, especially handicrafts has also been a significant area of his engagement. Benson is an Assistant Professor at the Azim Premji University, attached to the school of Development. 

Sabrina, Suresh, Sudhathi

Chindu, Hyderabad

Chindu came into existence in 2000 in Andhra Pradesh, as a fledgling cultural resource centre
. Knitting the everyday realities of Dalits, women, children and other disadvantaged people's lives into a transformed consciousness is the ultimate purposed of Chindu's existence.

In all Chindu's interventions, Theatre and Art have been the prime channel and medium of  communication, ensuring experiential through theatrie, music, dance and meditation. Chindu has different programs such as Self-enlightennment events and leadership and painting workshops. They practise and conduct trainings in Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed.
Over the years, Chindu's interventions have extended across South India, as well as to the statesof Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Odisha. Chindu also has its cultural interventions at international level and established links and  networks across the world.                                                     



Evan Hastings 

Shadow Liberation, Bangalore

Evan is the Founder/Director of Shadow Liberation and a Faculty at the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, Bangalore. 

A Theatre Practitioner who integrates Theatre of the Oppressed, Drama Therapy and Shadow Theatre into his unique style of participatory and socially engaged performance, Evan has facilitated the creation of original work in communities, performance venues, jails & prisons, refugee camps, and schools & colleges throughout the world for over 15 years.

Jaya Iyer

New Delhi

Jaya dreams, creates and facilitates learning opportunities  for individuals and communities .  Trained in theatre and with experience in youth work , education and social development , Jaya has been exploring the warp and weft of the world of art , social development and ecological integrity for over two and a half decades..

She has worked with several NGOs, educational institutions and other groups.She led the process of conceptualizing and initiating Nehru Learning Centre for Children and Youth. She was the convener of the performing and fine arts section of the national framework for teacher raining. She was awarded the UNESCO Aschberg bursary to study  Theater of the Oppressed with Augusto Boal .

CS Lakshmi


C S Lakshmi has been an independent researcher in Women's Studies for the last forty years. She received a Ford Foundation Fellowship for work on “Illustrated Social History of Women in Tamil Nadu”, and a Homi Bhabha Fellowship for a project on women musicians, dancers and painters. She is a well-known writer in Tamil under the pseudonym Ambai, and has received prestigious awards in India and abroad for her literary work.

In 1988, Lakshmi founded  SPARROW (Sound & Picture Archives for Research on Women) and is currently its Director. She lives in Mumbai with her film maker friend Vishnu Mathur - who also happens to be her husband - in a small third-floor flat with a view of the sea, along with her eighteen-year-old foster daughter Khintu and her two brothers Krishna and Sonu who brighten up her life.   

Lalitha Iyer

Plus Trust, Bangalore

Lalitha Iyer is an independent consultant, with a special interest in institutional change facilitation in social sector, education and 

livelihoods and micro finance. She is currently Dean (Professional Excellence) and a member of the Executive Board of Indian Society for Applied Behavioral Sciences (ISABS). She is an accredited sensitivity training facilitator and a professional member of National Training Laboratories (NTL –USA). She has held key positions in many financial institutions and has authored books in this domain. She is the Chairperson of Sathi,

Bangalore. From 1998 to 2001, Lalitha headed Vidyaranya, a progressive school, and since 1990, has been closely associated with Ananda Bharathi, a non-formal school for girls. She has set up Plus Trust (www.plustust.org) which offers fellowships on inclusive education and animal welfare.“Rescuing Runaway Children”, a book Lalitha coauthored on the issue of children on railway platforms was published in 2013. 

Lokesh Jain

New Delhi

For over three decades, Lokesh Jain has been on a path of selfexploration in theatre.  Four years of intensive training as an actor under the guidance Ebrahim Alkazi led to acting in numerous plays, under well known directors. Lokesh has acted in television serials and films, and performed numerous solo plays directed by himself and others. He has written, directed and acted in more than two hundred street plays on various issues related to children, gender and inequality.

Lokesh has taught courses in Theatre in Education  for School of Planning and Architecture; Theatre for Healing courses with doctors, and teaching acting as a form of craft and skills, in search of peace and reconciliation Lokesh is the Founder and Board member of Jamghat, an organization of and for street children and founder member of Mandala (the Magic Circle), his own theatre group.

Navjeevan Singh

University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi

Navjeevan  Singh is Professor of Pathology, and Co-ordinator of the Medical Education Unit at the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), New Delhi. He has published over a hundred research papers in PubMed indexed journals, and is co-editor of the recently released book “How to write the thesis and thesis protocol”.

In the past he has had an interest in Dermatopathology, particularly the Cytopathology of Leprosy, and other tropical diseases. Currently he devotes much of his time and attention to developing the Medical Education Unit, and promotion of Medical Humanities in Medical Education. 

He has an abiding interest in TO and in exploring its use in Medical Education to impart training in soft-skills to medical students, and doctors. 

Neela Gupta

Aura, Baroda

Neela has Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Library Sciences. from the M.S. university at Vadodara.

For over 30 years, she has worked with young children in residential and non residential schools as a librarian as well as a mentor/house parent. She is passionate about J. Krishnamurti’s teachings which inspired her to  work at two Krishnamurti schools - at Sahyadri School, Pune and Rajghat Besant School, Varanasi. She has been instrumental in setting up Sahyadri school library and revamping and digitalizing the Rajghat Besant school library.  She is a Pratham Books champion and conducts story telling sessions mainly with underserved children in Vadodara.

Currently she is engaged with  Aura a learning place (www.auraplace.com) as a mentor. She has keen interest in and is exposed to Non Violent Communication, Appreciative Inquiry, Emotional Intelligence, Theater of the Oppressed and currently undergoing Coaching for Community Transformation. 

She considers herself a life long learner and a beginner TO practitioner. 

Neha Naqvi

New Delhi                                                                                                                          

Neha Naqvi works with civil society organisations on issues connected with human rights, comprehensive sexuality education, gender justice and the arts for development. 

She has a Master of Laws (Columbia University) and a Bachelor of Laws (National Academy of Legal Studies and Research). 

Neha thinks the world of the techniques of the Theatre of the Oppressed and has a weakness for Trust Falls and Alison Bechdel (in equal measure).

Radha Ramaswamy

Centre for Community Dialogue and Change, Bangalore

A providential encounter with Theatre of the Oppre
ssed led to Radha's discovery of a pedagogy that combined her interests in theatre, social justice and teaching.  Following an initial training with Marc Weinblatt in Seattle, Radha founded the Centre for Community Dialogue and Change (CCDC) in 2011, and has been conducting   TO workshops with teachers, students, senior citizens, women’s groups,  and those from medical and allied fields.

Radha believes in the potential of TO to transforming human relationships, and is specially keen to see its impact in mainstream education in India.  

Radha has an advanced degree in theatre research and comes to TO after 25 years of teaching English and voluntary  work in the development sector.

Rajani Ramachandran


Rajani studied psychology (Bachelors and Masters from the Universities of Kerala and Madras respectively and PhD from University of Nottingham, U.K.) and at present, teaches Psychology to Postgraduate students at the University of Calicut, Kerala. 

Rajani discovered TO accidentally when she found CCDC’s website while searching for something on theatre on … you guessed it…Google. 

Having trained with Radha Ramaswamy, done bits and pieces of reading and, very recently taken  her first steps into facilitating workshops, she is more sure than ever of the potential of TO in pushing us to push ourselves to feel, think and take action.  

Ramu Ramanathan


Ramu  Ramanathan is a playwright–director who says he has penned more plays than he should have. His list of plays includes Cotton 56, Polyester 84; Jazz, Comerade Khumbhakarna, and more recently, Post cards from Bardoli, His book 3, Sakina Manzil And Other Plays, is a collection of eight plays, published by Orient Blackswan in collaboration with the English and Foreign Languages University.

Sanjoy Ganguly

Jana Sanskriti, Kolkata

Sanjoy Ganguly is a Founder Member and the Director of Jana Sanskriti, Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed which was 
founded in 1985. He is also the Chief Functionary of Federation of Theatre of the Oppressed, India  and  pioneer of the Theatre of the Oppressed movement in India.. He has a PhD from the University of East Anglia.

Sanjoy was active in Communist politics as a student. Disillusioned by its centralist tendencies, he left the party to search for a political culture of dialogue and democracy. He began working in the theatre in rural Bengal in the early 1980s. His encounter several years later with Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed, coupled with his own passionate commitment to the creation of a more just and equal society, led him to found Jana Sanskriti, an independent organization committed to the use of theatre to conscientise and empower the communities it serves. With more than 30 theatre teams in West Bengal, and having worked in Tripura, Jharkhand, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttarakhand, Jana Sanskriti is the largest TO organisation in the country.

Sanjoy has published numerous books and articles on Theatre of the Oppressed and allied subjects and has conducted workshops in numerous countries.

Shekhar Seshadri 

National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore

 Shekhar is Professor in the unit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NIMHANS, Bangalore. Besides working with child and adolescent mental health including developmental disabilities, he is actively involved in areas of gender, sexuality, violence/trauma and abuse, children in difficult circumstances, juvenile justice, experiential methodologies and in teacher training in life skills education. He also contributes to school mental health programmes. He is a consultant to schools, teachers and NGOs working with children - in training, programme development, action research and process evaluation in the areas of life skills and theatre-in-education. He is on the advisory board of UNICEF. He is an ardent Boal Practitioner - especially of Forum theatre and specializes in Boal’s Joker System.

Sima Ganguly

Jana Sanskriti, Kolkata

Sima Ganguly is a lead actress, director and trainer with Jana Sanskriti an organisation she joined in in 1989. Born in 1964, Sima graduated in Hindusthani classical music, and received a Bachelor's degree in Social Work after marriage. 

Sima is actively engaged in the Theatre-in-Education project recently started by Jana Sanskriti. She has travelled to many countries in North America, South America and Europe as workshop leader and as an actress in 
 performances. She regularly trains groups belonging to FOTO(Federation of Theatre of the Oppressed).

Sushama Deshpande

Pune, Mumbai 

Theatre is Sushama's passion. She has been in theatre for more than 40 years as writer, director and actress. She has worked with theatre artists and communities. Sushama enjoys presenting strong women personalities such as 'Savitribai Phule', Folk artists of Maharashtra, or Tamasha women', and ‘Women Saints of Maharashtra’. She has created plays with sex workers, and directed the dramatised version of Dalit writer Urmila Pawar's autobiography Aaydaan. Sushama learned Theatre of Oppressed techniques with the late Augusto Boal. She loves working with rural women through TO techniques.