THEATER ACROSS BORDERS
For Richa Nagar, theater, theory, pedagogy, and the work of building situated solidaries go hand in hand. Theatre is a process through which the mind-body-soul learns to be simultaneously ethical, political, and aesthetical. Through this process, the mind-body-soul begins to understand theory as inseparable from movement, and it grapples with movement as co-learning that mobilizes the intellect, muscles, breath, and emotions of the individual in conversation with the collective. As such, theater becomes a tool to refuse the separation among the political, the intellectual, and the artistic in order to advance visions and struggles for justice.
Richa’s explorations with Tarun Kumar in the realm of theatre have led to the birth of Parakh Theatre, a mode of learning, improvisation and embodied theorizing across multiple sites including Mumbai, Lucknow, and Minneapolis and they have also sowed the seeds of Sangtin Kala Manch with Sangtin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan (SKMS) in Sitapur District of India’s Uttar Pradesh. Selected moments and texts from this work can be found here.
SANGTIN KALA MANCH is an artistic forum through which the everyday experiences and political visions of SKMS saathis (members) find an expression. Saathis regularly come together to create plays about their everyday struggles. Richa Nagar’s role in this process has focused on helping to develop content that foregrounds saathis’ stories and experiences and on exploring forms of storytelling, dialogue, and music that can be improvised by saathis without relying on written scripts.
PARAKH, or critical eye, explores how the violent politics of casteism, communalism, and racism must be grappled with, not by arguments alone, but through an intense ongoing embodied engagement. Richa Nagar’s work with Parakh has focused on bringing together people from unequal locations and helping the actors to connect literary texts with their own lives in ways that can allow them to learn deeply from one another and to translate that learning into dialogue, songs, and performance.