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* College of Liberal Arts
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* Jana Natya Mach

April 3, 2007

Indian street theater group offers performances, storytelling

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Indian street theater performance group Jana Natya Manch on Saturday and Sunday (April 7 and 8) will present an interactive storytelling session, movie screening and several street plays on global politics.

The group's visit is sponsored by Purdue's College of Liberal Arts and the Discovery Learning Center, which is housed in Discovery Park. All of the events are free and open to the public. Jana Natya Manch, also known as the People's Theatre Group and Janam, is made up of self-trained actors and has participated in more than 7,500 performances of 100 street and proscenium plays in India. The performances and plays will be in Hindi and translated into English.

"Street theater has historically served as a performative space for raising critical political and sociocultural issues," said Mohan Jyoti Dutta, associate professor of communication and the event's organizer. "In its performance, Jana Natya Manch, one of the pioneering theater activist groups in India, raises questions of political relevance through art. Historically, street theater has played an important role in Indian politics in serving as a platform for those who have otherwise been silenced. As a genre, it demonstrates the ways in which art can be mobilized for social change."

The interactive storytelling session, "Whose Side Are You On?" will introduce the audience to the mechanics of street theater. The session begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturday (April 7) in Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education, Room 2280, and will be followed by the workshop, "Street as Stage." The street performance, "Yeh Dil Mange More Guruji," will take place on the Memorial Mall at 4:30 p.m. The first day's events will close with a film screening of "The Play Goes On" at 6:30 p.m. in Matthew Hall, Room 210. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Two more street plays - "Who Bol Uthi (And She Spoke Up)" and "Nahi Qabool (Unacceptable)" - will be performed beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday (April 8) on Memorial Mall.

During the workshop, Moloyashree Hashmi and Sudhanva Deshpande, two of India's best-known street theater activists, will talk about street theater in India, its history and its role in cultural and political change.

Hashmi conducts the Theatre Practicum at Delhi University, and Deshpande is an actor, director, playwright and teacher who writes regularly on theater, cinema and politics. He has been published in a number of journals, including The Drama Review, XCP: Cross-Cultural Poetics, Seagull Theatre Quarterly, Theatre India and Economic and Political Weekly. He is a managing editor with LeftWord Books in New Delhi.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, (765) 494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Mohan Jyoti Dutta, (765) 494-2587, mdutta@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

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