Socially Relevant Street Plays to be Staged in Kochi This Weekend

The Brij Mohan Anand Foundation and Jana Natya Manch have joined hands to organise a weekend of street plays, a derivative of the exhibition Dissent and Discourse: the Art and Politics of Rebel Artist Brij Mohan Anand (1928-1986), on the many faces of dissent and its significance in public discourse, creativity, and progress. Two plays focusing on the rights of the workers and violence on women are scheduled to be enacted in Subhash Park, Marine Drive and various parts of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, which include some of the venues of the ongoing edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

The exhibition that is running as a collateral project to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale comprises artworks of Brij Mohan, a rebellious modern painter and illustrator. His works depicted his protest on capitalism, neo-imperialism and nuclear warfare, the commercialisation of art and culture, sexual inequality, etc.

Jan Natya Manch, popularly known as Janam, is one of the oldest street theatre groups in Delhi. Janam is considered to be a pioneer of the street theatre movement in India and is known particularly for its artistic and political innovation along with close collaborations with grassroots organisations including trade unions, women’s support groups, and student organisations. Two plays, Yeh Bhi Hinsa Hai (The Faces of Violence) and, Yeh Hum Kyun Sahein (Enough is Enough), both in Hindi will be played on January 28-29 at six different venues in eight slots.

‘The Faces of Violence’, which talks about stalking, voyeurism, male dominance and non-physical forms of violence, was first prepared in 2005 and updated after the Delhi gang rape of December, 2012. The play ends with rape, depicted powerfully but symbolically, with stylised movements. ‘Enough Is Enough’ is based on the personal narratives of industrial workers in and around Delhi, gathered by the actors.

Commenting on the motive behind organising these plays in Kochi, Aditi Anand, Associate Director of the B.M. Anand Foundation, said, “It is true that Malayalee society is far more developed than many of the sections of people in other states of our country and the standard of living and the outlook towards various things that Malayalees maintain is very unique. However, despite being such a forward society many subjects that are very crucial are not discussed or given the required importance and brought to the discussion table. It is high time we do it and make people aware that they can speak about the things they consider uncomfortable in a comfortable manner. The only important thing is to break the ice and through these shows our aim is to completely fluctuate and vibrate the audience and make him/her think about speaking out without fear.”

This is the first time Janam is performing in Kochi and the organisers stress that they were very particular in associating with the group as they want to put forth an unique item to Malayalees who have very high expectations from plays and above all propagate the idea behind arranging such an event to society in the right and strongest manner possible.

Main photograph courtesy Facebook

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