International Class (2012) alumnus Sanjay Kumar has a new article in the Winter 2013 issue of TDR (The Drama Review) entitled, Performing on the Platform: Creating Theatre with India’s Platform Children. TDR is the prestigious performance studies journal edited by Richard Schechner, one of the pioneers of the field.
Kumar tells the story of Delhi’s Pandies Theatre, which he founded some 15 years ago, and describes as “pushing the boundaries of activist theatre.” The article shares the history and methods of of Pandies, in which young middle class facilitators work with impoverished boys, taken from India’s railway platforms and incarcerated in state reformatories, to create theatre based upon their lives. We are told of lives of heartbreaking horror, abuse, hopelessness and violence transformed through ensemble performance.
A creative contributor to the Performing the World community, Kumar holds a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Delhi, where he’s a professor of English at Hans Raj College. He says of Pandies:
Our work is now almost totally activistic. We use theatre to generate awareness around social inequalities…but we concentrate especially upon working with underprivileged children. …we make theatre with young people as a way to address trauma, contain conflict and create space for marginalized voices…Many certitudes of middle-class existence are being challenged here.