Thursday, December 27, 2012

Living Root Bridge

My stomach churned with excitement as the car turned down a small road and the dry brushes became lush jungle. Welcome to Mawlynnong, "the cleanest village in Asia", in the Khasi Hills of India's Northeastern State of Meghalaya. One of the wettest places in the world, the Khasi people have a tradition of weaving treeroots into living bridges that grow over generations.

This is the dry season, so as you can see, the water level in the river is low. But, as they describe in the BBC Human Planet excerpt below, when the monsoons come that all changes!

Human Planet Photographer, Timothy Allen, has a great blog post about the Living Root Bridges. It's easy to get excited about the idea of organic architecture, traditional sustainable design and everything that the bridges symbolize. The Khasi culture has other great examples, like the bamboo tree house pictured below.

There are no nails or screws, metal or concrete in this structure. The joints are tied together with reed and the supports are wedged in between tree branches. Not mention from the high platform you can see the sunrise across the plains of Bangladesh. I was moved by the magic of the forest, and the generous spirit of the people who live there.

Illuminated by the moon and stars, this is a long exposure shot was taken by Mitwa AV.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ramayana Remix in Kolkata

After a 29 hour train ride from Bangalore to Kolkata, the Shadow Liberation crew hit the streets to act out high energy scenes as a promotion for our preview performance of Ramayana Remix.

Once again we had the honor of collaborating with LOK, Kolkata's own youth lead arts movement (see Come Together about our last collaboration). LOK actors and dancers joined our rehearsals to infuse local talent into our epic production.

We put on the show outside Shrimati Art Gallery, in a beautiful open air courtyard theatre. The courtyard quickly filled beyond capacity with a young enthusiastic audience. The crowd was cheering so much at some points the performers were pausing after each line of dialogue!

Thanks to Rajat Mitra for the photos. (see his FB album). Thanks to Shrimati Art Gallery for putting up with our long noisy rehearsals. And of course thanks to LOK for everything!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Muktadhara-V: Forum Theatre Festival

Every other year Theatre of the Oppressed practitioners from around the globe flock to Kolkata for Jana Sanskriti'Muktadhara: Forum Theatre Festival. This is my second time attending Muktadhara. 2 years ago I came with my show at the time, Gender Shadow (see my posts from Kolkata 2010)

What I love about the festival is that the Forum Theatre pieces from around India and the world, are followed by traditional performing arts. The above picture is of a dance group from Orissa.

I think one of the most amazing things about Jana Sanskriti is the mass movement that they have built over the years. They quote Boal in saying they are the largest Theatre of the Oppressed movement in the world! And I don't doubt it.

This year I brought Shadow Liberation performers with me and we went with Jana Sanskriti out into a village in rural West Bengal for an evening of Forum Theatre with the locals.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sahabhaga: Festival of Participatory Performance

Young artists gather close with LOK, Indians largest youth led arts initiative.

At the crossroads of tradition and technology a new generation of artists are forging innovative practices and productions that engage with contemporary social and environmental problems. I created the Sahabhaga: Festival of Participatory Performance as a space to exchange, learn and, most all, participate in this creative movement. This performative dialogue centered around 3 questions:
  1. What are the most compelling and creative ways of inviting participation?
  2. How do modes of participatory performance reflect their cultural context?
  3. How can performance awaken the impulse to act for a more just world?

Yours Truly Theatre gave a dynamic Playback Theatre performance (above). In addition to Playback there were workshops and performances including, Forum Theatre, Legislative Theatre, Drama Therapy, and Devised Dance Theatre.

Shadow Liberation presented a preview performance of Ramayana Remix for Sahabhaga. In the pictures above you can see the beautiful shadows and costumes of this epic production.

Srishti students warmed up the stage and hosted the evening performances with energy and style!

Through authentic movement, text and image Disbelieve (above) embodied our deeply conflicted outer and inner worlds, the violence and chaos as well as yearning and desire. Produced by Studio for Movement Arts and Therapies- SMART

Headlining the festival was Kilusan Bautista with his solo performance, UNIVERSAL SELF, which he describes as "a creative and cutting edge presentation of the contemporary struggles for working class, Filipino Americans in the diaspora and the interconnectedness of Hip Hop culture with indigenous, tribal Filipino cultural expressions."

See more pictures on the Sahabhaga Facebook Page, and read more about the amazing workshops at