Updates from Pune 18-24th September 2018 – SUNO, SUNO (Listen, listen!)

This has been such a productive week for the project with myself and Andy Barrett from the UK collaborating with Swatantra Theatre and the Research Assistants – Saba and Tejasi – here in Pune.

The aim for the week was to develop the collaborative methodology and create a short performance piece (based on narratives already gathered by the RAs) and then perform this piece in the basti (slum) on the Friday 21st September.

As soon as Andy and I arrived in Pune we began work with Swatantra, led by Abhijeet and Dhanashree and their group of performers who worked tirelessly all week from early morning to late at night. First they shared a version of the last play that went into the basti and then we turned our attention to the new piece. Crucially the perspective of Saba and Tejasi was central to this new creative process and so the ideas for the new work came from their description of new narratives gathered from residents in the basti. Andy led some of the rehearsal period and teased out the theme of neighbours as a recurring motif from the stories. Over the next couple of days we developed 4 short stories about nieghbourliness – caring for a parent who drinks too much, helping a lost child, supporting a neighbour who is depressed by their situation and helping a friend earn some money. Each scene was very short but picked out the central ‘beauty’ or sentiment from each of these situations – using humour on a regular basis. The RAs often interjected to clarify or correct some of the ideas we were having and so in some respects began to play a dramaturgical role in the process.

This is where the methodology between arts and health and life science research begins to merge as concrete information gathered in the field is melded with the creative process to add depth and detail.

By Friday 21st we were ready to go into the basti. The whole performance consisted of a trash band, created by Swatantra out of old plastic cans, metal pipes, sticks and any number of other bits of junk, followed by the short scenes we had made and the finale being a new song Suno, Suno (listen listen) which we now see as the central motif and potential title of the project (tbc). So into the basti we went!! (details of this in the next blog) Mark


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