Sanjay Kumar, founder and artistic director of Delhi’s Pandies’ Theatre, is in NYC this week for the fall residency of the Institute’s International Class. His workshop at the Institute on Saturday, Sept. 24, offered participants a look at the therapeutic/ developmental power of performance and an introduction into the lives of the hundreds of children he has organized using theatre — including one program that engages “platform youths” and another based in the slums of Nithari.
“Platform youths” (mostly boys) turn to sex work and drugs as a way out extremely impoverished and often violent or sexually abusive situations at home. The young people come from all parts of the country — many from rural villages. Some are incarcerated in juvenile jails or rehabilitation centers and home placement camps.
Sanjay and his colleagues go to the jails and camps and offer the young people an opportunity to perform their lives via plays, skits and improvised scenes in which they can give shape and even humor to the brutality they’ve experienced. Young people have staged several performances of their plays in Ajmer, Rajasthan — both at the main railway station and in the world famous Dargah (Muslim shrine).
In 2006, bodies of 53 Nithari children were found in the water tank in a wealthy neighboring enclave. Pandies came into the community in late 2006 in the aftermath of this crisis. The Nithari theatre program currently involves about 400 children, many of whom have participated since 2006 and have become facilitators/teachers themselves. Audiences at the troupe’s performances have included elected officials, policy makers and influentials…. READ MORE