A performance by Janam in India.
A performance by Janam in India.

Jana Natya Mach, also known as Janam (People's Theatre Group) a street theatre group from India, will visit Hamilton College for several events on Thursday and Friday, March 29 and 30. The events, sponsored by the Edwin Lee Fund at Hamilton College, the Program in Asian Studies at Hamilton, and the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, are free and open to the public.

Janam (meaning 'birth'), is a group of self-trained actors that has to its credit more than 7,500 performances of about 100 street and proscenium plays in about 140 towns and cities of India. The events are:

Film screening: The Play Goes On
Thursday, March 29, 4-6 p.m. KJ Auditorium

Natak Jari Hai (The Play Goes On) is a documentary on Janam, directed by award-winning director Lalit Vachani. This film draws out the spirit of Janam, as it takes theatre to the people. The 85-minute film is subtitled in English. The screening will be followed by discussion.

Performance: Which Side Are You On? And Unacceptable
Thursday, March 29, 8-10 p.m., Opus I (outside Wellin Hall, Schambach Center for Music and the Performing Arts)

Which Side Are You On? is the story of a king and a slave. The king is the oppressor, the slave is the oppressed. The performance helps think about issues of class, power, gender, property and change.

Unacceptable (Nahi Qabool): The President of the most powerful country in the world is on an Indian tour, and is being taken around by the Minister of Globablization and the Minister of Privatization. Biting satire runs through the play, as the two ministers fall over each other to please the President by showing off how much they have worked in the interests of imperialism and against the interests of their own people. The play satirizes the current fashionable ideas of liberalization and globalization, in which the poor seem to have to pay the largest price.

Street as Stage (Workshop and discussion)
Friday, March 30, 10 a.m. List 106 (adjacent to Schambach Center for Music and the Performing Arts)

Moloyashree Hashmi and Sudhanva Deshpande, two of India's best-known street theatre activists, will speak about street theatre in India, its history and the part it plays in cultural and political change. By discussing the processes of creation, performance and reception, they will help think about the intersection of art and politics.

Hashmi is perhaps India's best-known street theatre actor, having done more than 5,000 performances of nearly 100 street and proscenium plays all over India. She currently conducts the Theatre Practicum for students of the bachelor of elementary education at Delhi University.

Sudhanva Deshpande is an actor, director, playwright and teacher. He writes regularly on theatre, cinema, and politics, and has been published in a number of journals, including The Drama Review (TDR), XCP: Cross-Cultural Poetics, Seagull Theatre Quarterly (STQ), Theatre India, and Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), besides being a regular contributor to ZNet. He works as managing editor with LeftWord Books, New Delhi.

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