KOCHI:A weekend-long series of street theatre performances organised by the B M Anand Foundation along with Jana Natya Manch (Janam), one of Delhi’s oldest theatre groups, was a huge draw with hundreds of people thronging the venues.
The performances were organised as part of the outreach programme of the exhibition titled, Dissent and Discourse: the Art and Politics of Brij Mohan Anand, a collateral project of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
The performances had two plays, The Faces of Violence (Yeh Bhi Hinsa Hai), and Enough is Enough (Yeh Hum Kyun Sahein) intended to spark a conversation on the many faces of dissent and its significance in public discourse, creativity and progress. Four shows were held on Saturday at the Mattancherry bus stand, Vasco da Gama Square, Fort Kochi beach and Aspinwall House. On Sunday, four shows at locations in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry as well as Marine Drive and Subhash Park in the city were performed.
“B M Anand’s works reflected the modern industrial world and served to hold the empowered perspective, and the selective interests served by it, accountable to the broader public. The series of plays by the revolutionary street group Jana Natya Manch on the exploitation of industrial labour and gender violence resonates strongly with the philosophy of this Indian Modern Master,” said exhibition curator Shruthi Issac.
“The women of the current generation are reluctant to open up about the mental and physical trauma faced in a patriarchal society. Street plays like this should be organised at the school-level to allow future generations to overcome this fear and to create awareness,” said Cochin Corporation Councillor, Shiny Mathew, who attended one of the performances of The Faces of Violence.
'Enough is Enough' based on real testimonies collected by Janam from industrial workers in and around Delhi - also played to appreciative audiences. The production highlights the mechanics of how workers are exploited and the issues that confront them such as low wages, long work hours and inadequate safety measures. The play juxtaposes hilarious over-the-top farce with deadly serious, quietly assertive drama on the harsh work conditions faced by the workers.
“It was a pleasure to see so many people gathered for the street plays even though the medium of the shows was Hindi,” said Moloyashree Hashmi, wife of Safdar Hashmi, the founder of Jana Natya Manch and one of the six actors in the troupe.
“We have witnessed people crying, getting angry and flaring up during our performances, but to see a crowd completely buying into our conceptions was a satisfying experience,” she added.