kiskiKAHANI (the Ramayana Project)

300 Ramayanas and Counting . . .
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Rakshasnama: A review

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Date/Time
Date(s) - 1 Jul 2012
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Location


Rafadi Hakim talks about our workshop with Dipalle Parmar and Pragati Vidya Mandir.

Kiski Kahani: The Ramayana Project together with Dipalle Parmar, a local theatre practitioner, held a four-day workshop for the teaching staff of Pragati Vidya Mandir, a Marathi-medium school in Warje, Pune. The workshop took place during two weekends from June 30 to July 1, and from July 7 to July 8, 2012. Maduri Nikude, the school’s principal, provided two classrooms for the workshop and was also an active participant. Within four days of storytelling and acting, the teachers transformed themselves into actors capable of retelling rakshasas from the Ramayana and the Mahabarata in a creative light.

In the beginning of the workshop, a discussion about the diversity of the Ramayana inspired the teachers to tell the story from the perspective of different characters, ranging from Rama, Sita, to Ravana. Subsequently, Dipalle, who has been teaching similar workshops across India and in Italy, developed exercises from Theatre of the Oppressed, a theatre form developed by the Brazilian Augusto Boal since 1971. This theatre form serves not only as an ice-breaker, but also as a way to promote the idea of storytelling as a way of communicating social and political change. For this part, the teachers had to enact an experience in which they have been oppressed by an oppressor, which is a way of imagining rakshasa-like personalities in real-life situations. In addition, the teachers completed an exercise in retelling a story from Woman Who Run with Wolves, a book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes on the instinctual nature of womanhood across cultures.

As an exploration in visual learning, Dipalle and the workshop participants created eight papier-mache masks of imaginary demon characters. At the end of the workshop, they performed a ten-minute theatrical piece on how the villains of the epics, ranging from Ravana to Manthara and Sakuni, have transformed themselves into peacemakers in the modern world. Overall, the teachers remarked that the workshop helped them find exercises that engage both the body and the mind in teaching, and that such activities have increased their confidence as educators.

Rafadi Hakim is an undergraduate student at Carleton College, Minnesota, USA, majoring in sociology and anthropology and concentrating in South Asian Studies. He is now interning for Open Space’s Kiski Kahani Project after listening to different Ramayanas and the Mahabharatas in Indonesia, India, and the United States. In his spare time he enjoys classical music, reading the news, and more coffee.

Watch the video here: