Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shadows Shake The Basement

The Basement, a youthful music venue in Kolkata, hosted Gender Shadow, which drew an international audience from Jana Sanskriti's Muktadhara IV, Theatre of the Oppressed Festival.
The locals sat in a different section from the internationals. While some scenes got a rise from both sections, many jokes brought laughter from either one section or the other. In the Gender Shadow tradition, the dance floor erupted at the end of the show, as the blend of US club music and Bollywood hits intermingled like the crowd.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Playing with Peaceworks

This show at Women's Christian College was organized by Peaceworks of Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre. This was our first time doing Gender Shadow for an all women audience, and the audience reactions were strong.
They laughed at everything the first time through the show and when it was time for interventions the engagement stayed equally high. After the show when we broke into a dance party the young women rushed the stage, much to the dismay of their dean.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spilling out of the Studio

With the stage compressed to the smallest imaginable size, and with audience members sitting one on top of another there still wasn't enough space to accommodate the turnout for this show. People who couldn't see Gender Shadow perform listened in from the hallway!
Studio 21 was quite intimate by the nature of the space, and the audience got upclose and personal with their interventions. See the review of the show Theatre of change, of and for 'spect-actors' in The Telegraph(Kolkata) on 15th December 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Drishya Interrupts Injustice

The power went out 5 minutes into the show and it was still the most powerful performance of Gender Shadow to date. Youth from Drishya (see previous Drishya blog posts), sprung into action to stop sexual harassment in the bus scene.

What really brought the debate to full force was the issue of married women who wanted to work. The young men argued against women working while the young women firmly asserted their right.

We invited young women to the stage to argue from the men's perspective and had the young men argue the lady's views. This brought the room to roars, and after the show the lively discussion continued as the youth spilled out of the space.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Undoing Oppression at Opus

Stylized videos flickered on an elevated screen as audience member's sculpted the actors. Loud music and friendly discussions filled room while the white floor cushions disappeared under the crowd.
The work we to increase the presence of the shadows in the piece, since the Centre for Film and Drama Performance, really showed on the stage at Opus.

Fresh interventions from the Opus crowd took the show in new directions, challenging public sexual harassment in creative ways.
True to form the Gender Shadow evening ended in a dance party onstage.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Forum Theatre for Playback Junkies

Stories of cast conflict and police abuse of power emerged from the group during this one day Forum Theatre workshop I facilitated for Yours Truly Theatre. The Bangalore based group who currently does Playback Theatre, and Complete the Story Theatre (similar to Augusto Boal's Simultaneous Dramaturgy) wants to add Forum Theatre to their repertoire. In addition to main stage productions, Yours Truly Theatre currently works in schools, colleges, hospitals and community settings. Co-Founder Ranji David said "Forum Theatre will help us work with Citizen Issues".

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Interupting Injustice with Gender Shadow

The audience entered the Centre for Film & Drama to find actors in the lobby posed as statues labeled with tags like "Tom Boy", "Homosexual" and "Homemaker". A host was there directing people to 'sculpt' the labeled bodies, remixing the stereotype or physically juxtaposing various identities embodied by the actors.
Once the theatre filled the Jokers (Theatre of the Oppressed term for the character who plays the role of facilitating crowd participation in the performance) got the room roaring with voices playfully preparing to engage in this Forum Theatre show.
The play itself used shadow masks, plaster masks, movement and drama to portray issues ranging from childhood sexual abuse to unreal beauty standards manufactured in photoshop. All the scenes contatined unresolved conflicts and/or undesirable endings, with the content drawn from the actors lives.
After the 30 minute performance the Jokers announced the play would run again. In the second run of the show the audience was invited to interrupt scenes, replace characters, and explore other potential outcomes for the characters in peril. (see Barath Jayarajan making an intervension in the 3 photo sequence above)
Gender Shadow's first public Forum Theatre performance sparked meaningful dialogue and creative interventions. Read more about Gender Shadow in the Media:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gender Shadow Performances

Gender Shadow: An Invitation to Interrupt Injustice

In the street and in our minds, the shadows of gender oppression dance against the fabric of society. This interactive theatre piece invites audience members to enroll in a collective journey to dismantle the assumptions and beliefs that enable a climate of limited gender expression, objectification and violence. This performance speaks through the voices of Youth from across India.

Upcoming Shows

Saturday 27th of November 2010 @ 3:30pm
Centre for Film & Drama
#36, 9th main , B.V.Karanth Road,
BSK II Stage, Bangalore - 560070

Tuesday 7th of December 2010 @ 9pm
# 4, 1st Main, Off Palace Cross Road,
Chakravathy Layout, Vasanth Nagar,
Bangalore - 560052

For more information visit the Gender Shadow Blog
Check out the article about us at

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shadow Dancing

The ancient art of shadow puppets took new forms in this evening of silhouette swagger. Audience members brought their shadows into the dreamlike world, dancing between light and screen, casting shadow shapes on the fabric of society.
Students from the Gender Shadow project, that Arzu Mistry and I are facilitating at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, hosted this interactive event at active canvas, in Bangalore, India.
Join the creative dialogue at the Gender Shadow Blog.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Masks and Boal's "Joker System"

Why do we wear masks? What happens when the masks we wear don't come off because they've fused to our identity? And how do we navigate our masks in the intimacy of romantic relationships?

Dr. Shekhar Seshadri facilitated this one-day workshop based on Augusto Boal's "Joker System". In the workshop we developed our performance through the following seven steps: Dedication, Explanation, Scene, Episode, Interview, Commentary, Exhortation.

The result was the performance you see pictured here, staged at Centre for Film and Drama in Bangalore. Thanks to Toto Funds the Arts for organizing the workshop and performance.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Arts Specialist Forum in Boston

Tonight was the first Arts Specialist Forum for Boston Public Schools Arts. Lois Hetland, the keynote speaker, invited me to facilitate a discussion with the Drama and Dance Teachers about the Studio Habits of Mind. It felt like we were just getting started when the event concluded, but this is only the first Arts Specialist Forum, so the Art, Dance, Music, and Drama teachers were left hungry for more.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hip Hop Dance Theatre at Boston University

We made all the movements of the day in fast forward, then crashed to floor to stretch. Breakdancing foundations followed and in culmination we created movement theatre pieces exploring themes like "life on B.U. campus" and "war". 50 young dancers from Boston University's Dance Theatre Group came to my Hip Hop Dance Theatre master class. It was an honor to work with this talented group. If you're in the Boston Area check out their performances this fall.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drama as Critical Literacy

“The hardest thing in the world is to help someone else know something for themselves”

~ Dorothy Heathcote (2006) Becoming a teacher-employing drama into the classroom

I had the honor of teaching Drama as Critical Literacy to this group of teachers pursuing their Masters in Education through Lesley University's Integrated Teaching through the Arts program. This cohort is in beautiful Eugene, Oregon.
At the end of this course students expressed their commitment to addressing issues of oppression, and their excitement about using Drama in their classrooms this school year. The following quote was used by a student in her final paper:

“Together, students can work toward creating ideas about what can be done to eradicate the racial problems that they identify in their schools, in their communities, and around the world” (Davis 2007)

Davis, J.R. (2007). Making a difference: How teachers can positively affect racial identity and acceptance in America. The Social Studies, 98(5), 209-215.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Future of Learning Institute

At Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero
I had the honor of being a faculty fellow at the Future of Learning Institute, I creatively conspired with educators at the crossroads of globalization, the digital revolution, and advancements in neuroscience.
At Project Zero the work is more about keeping questions questing, as opposed to providing answers. The pictured educators are playing with their questions at the edge of the unknown future.
Here I am with Howard Gardener, best know for his theory of multiple intelligences. Howard is still actively engaged with GoodWork, a project promoting excellence in quality, socially responsibly, and meaningful work.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Remix Trauma

In Yale's back yard, these Drama Therapists from The Post Traumatic Stress Center are commiting wholeheartedly to Hip Hop Theare methods in this Professional Development session I facilitated for them, "Remix that that Trauma: Hip Hop Drama Therapy 4 Youth."
I'm inspired by the dynamic work taking place at The Post Traumatic Stress Center. They're using Developmental Transformations and a trauma perspective in their work with youth through the Scholars A.L.I.V.E. program. I got a chance to do a workshop with some of the youth, and let me tell you... New Haven's got talent!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Food Justice New Mexico

What do you know about Food Justice in New Mexico? I've been rolling with Los Tamaleros de La Tierra, and soaking up teachings like a desert plant in monsoon. In these pictures at Sol Feliz Farm we're co-facilitating a daylong workshop with El Puente Youth Summer program. I set off the morning with group building games then we worked with compost, traditional irrigation, seed saving, and water quality tests.
Back in Albuquerque, we dug and planted a garden at the office for Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP).
Check out the video below of SWOP's Project Feed the Hood Garden:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shadow Puppets for Social Justice

At Oakland Unified School District's SUMMER ARTS INSTITUTE
Facilitated by Arzu Mistry & Evan HastingsHow can we use the arts as a medium for dialogue?
Teachers brought stories and dreams illuminating the space between shadows they navigate on a journey for justice.
A collaborative shadow puppet performance dialogue, engaged issues including: racism with low expectations for urban youth, gang pressures and influence in elementary school, and the need for safe clean parks and playgrounds.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Artful Teaching : Book Release

My chapter is titled "Creativity as Classroom Management"

Artful Teaching
Integrating the Arts for Understanding Across the Curriculum K--8
David M. Donahue and Jennifer Stuart, Editors
Foreword by Cyrus E. Driver
Afterword by Lois Hetland
Pub Date: June 2010, 192 pages

Available at Teachers College Press

Monday, April 12, 2010

Passion Fruit Trailer

This trailer is more like a highlights reel for the artists involved. While this may not make "sense" if you didn't see the play, you can get a feel from it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Second Annual Drishya Facilitators Training

What a joy it was to work with the Drishya facilitators again. This year we were joined by students from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.
We reviewed the activities from last years training (see blog post), then created a couple Forum Theatre Pieces.

One of the Forum Pieces was about a male student sexually harassing a female student and the teacher was missing all the signs. The other piece was about government workers cutting down large trees to widen the roadway. It was a combination of critical thinking through drama, and critical laughing from the belly. I can't wait for the next one!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Drama Therapy and Social Work

Imma Rennis and I facilitated a workshop at the Government Post Graduate College in Hyderabad, for the MA Social Work students. The group was so enthusiastic until we did a role play including the phrase "I love you", then the group froze. Participants commented that "I love you" isn't something to say out loud in public. If we can't say it can we play it? Love is an action.