Support Theatre for Democracy!

What is this initiative about?

Theatre of the Oppressed or Forum Theatre is a participatory process which offers people the possibility of identifying issues, articulating them in the form of short plays and creating a structure in which an active dialogue between the actors and the spectators is instigated in order to try and change the story. It is an interactive mode of behaviour which stimulates evaluation, critical thinking and imaginative responses.

The contributions to this initiative will help equip a group of social activists with theatre facilitation skills.  These activists are currently working on a range on issues such as: Land Rights, Electoral Politics, Religious and Caste based co-existence, Right to Housing, Right to Education, Labour Rights, Rehabilitation of manual scavengers, and so on. This workshop will help them stimulate their intellect and use theatre in their work practice, which will enhance their outreach and efficiency multi-fold.

I first got introduced to Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) a few years ago. Engaging with TO exercises and putting together a Forum Play gave me the opportunity to engage with myself in a non-judgemental manner. It stimulated my intellect to be a better person and contribute more efficiently to the world, and in my role as a social worker.  Over the years, I have facilitated various workshops with TO elements in it and at the end of each initiative, I wonder about the fiery potential this practice would have for young social activists across the country, who are working bravely, and relentlessly on addressing various social issues. Equipping them with skills of theatre will be a powerful tool to use as they strive hard to pave a path of better living for the communities they are engaged with: a better world for all of us to be a part of.

The Theatre of the Oppressed practice believes that every human being is capable of thinking. It is a form of theatre that deeply respects intellectual faculty of people and therefore has the potential to portray oppression and change the story. This form of theatre focuses not just on acting, but also action. It deliberates on the reflection of reality and a rehearsal for future action.

The experts:

Janasanskriti Center for the Theatre of Oppressed is one of the pioneers in this field in India. Over the past 3 decades, Janasanskriti has addressed issues like domestic violence, girl child trafficking, child abuse, maternal & child health, primary education and health care, etc, all through theatre.

Here is a video of Sanjoy Ganguly, co-founder of Janasanskriti, talking about Theatre and Change: 

Here is another video highlighting some snippets of a Forum performance by the Janasanskriti team: 

Equipping social activists with skills of TO will enhance their ability to examine their own actions in relation with the community that they work with, the structural oppression in which communities are entrenched in and facilitate a creative process of birthing new ideas and actions for change.

How these Funds will be used

For the purpose of this workshop, we need a total amount of Rs. 2 lakhs. This workshop will be hosted at Sambhaavnaa Institute of Public Policy, Palampur. Nestled at the foothills of Dhauladhar mountains, Sambhaavnaa provides for an enriching learning space, allowing for nature to be a teacher as well. For the purpose of this workshop, Sambhaavnaa Institute has agreed to subsidize the boarding and lodging costs for the participants of the workshop. Part of the funds raised through this campaign will go to towards the basic costs of hiring the space for the workshop.

Sanjoy Ganguly and Sima Ganguly from Janasanskriti have agreed to facilitate this workshop pro bono. Part of the funds raised through this campaign will go into reimbursing their travel expenses.

Close to 30 social activists from across the country will be joining in as participants for the workshop. A majority of the funds generated through this campaign will be spent on supporting their travel costs.

Your contribution is important! And no amount of contribution is less for us. Do support this initiative generously and share it with your friends too.
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16th December 2017
Dear friends

We are grateful for the support received on this campaign so far. Over 30 people have funded the campaign and many more have extended their support with encouragement, kindness and faith.

So far, we have shortlisted the following movements for the workshop. Here is a brief description of the kind of work they are involved in:

Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) (formerly Jan Jagaran Abhiyaan) is a registered trade union of unorganised sector workers in Bihar. This movement has taken on an uphill task of working on the Right to Work, via MGNREGA and also ensuring that other entitlements provided by the state reach people who live under abject poverty. JJSS mobilizes rural poor to demand better services from the government and to get the existing entitlements as laid down by the various legislations. JJSS aims to bring about a larger change in the lives of rural poor by means of “sangharsh” (struggle) and “nirman” (constructive activities). To know more about JJSS, click here

Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM) was founded by Shankar Guha Niyogi and has been an inspiration for workers and political struggles in India. They work in the Bhilai-Durg region of Chhattisgarh. In conjunction with other trade unions, CMM has organized industrial and mine workers, agricultural workers and adivasis of the region to raise economic demands and transformative politics. CMM has been able to secure better wages and working conditions for the workers. It has also set up Shaheed Hospital (a workers led institution) and has led campaigns on various social issues. To read more about CMM, you can click on this link

Sarvohara Jan Andolan (SJA) is working in more than 750 villages in 7 talukas of Raigad district, Maharashtra. SJA started out by taking up the issue of Dali Land (land on hill slopes) and then moved on to take up other land issues, atrocities against tribals and proper implementation of government programmes. In the process, SJA has been able to build the self-esteem and collective strength of the Katkari tribe and other oppressed sections. To know more about SJA, click here

Chetna Andolan (CA) is a people’s organisation in Uttarakhand.  For the last twenty years, Chetna Andolan has fought against the illegal takeover of natural resources by private companies; against corruption and extortion by officials; and for the rights of women, forest dwellers, workers and others.  From 2012 onwards Chetna Andolan has been organising workers in and around the city of Dehradun. To know more about Chetna Andolan, click here

Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) is a national movement committed to the total eradication of manual scavenging and the rehabilitation of all scavengers for dignified occupations. Manual scavenging, an occupation which involves cleaning the dry latrines and carrying human excreta, is considered as one of the lowest, polluted and most degrading occupation. The caste system dictates that those born into a particular Dalit sub-caste should engage in manual scavenging and should remain doing so throughout their lives, prohibiting them to lead a dignified life in the community. SKA works on addressing these structural issues of caste and labour. To read more about SKA, click here

What's next?

We are excited and currently in the process of getting in touch with the participants from the above listed movements (and more). Another idea that we are toying with is to conduct a series of regional workshops as we slowly work up to this one at the Sambhaavnaa Institute. Fingers crossed!
What you could do?

Please share this crowdfunding link with all your friends. You could write in to us with any suggestions you have as well! Drop us a message on the comments section and we will get back to you.

We are eagerly looking forward to meet our goal!

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raised of Rs.200,000 goal

37 Supporters

10 Days to go

Payment options: Online, cheque pickups

Beneficiary: Social Activists info_outline

Supporters (37)

Nitin donated Rs.3,000
Richa donated Rs.1,000
Ashwin donated Rs.500
Mansha donated Rs.500
Anonymous donated Rs.1,500
Narmadam donated Rs.500