UNSUNI: A Performance by Darpana/Mallika Sarabhai

(Also from A.V.):

Unsuni is a physical, musical theatre piece based on Harsh Mander’s book Unheard Voices. And these voices were being “heard” in an elitist international school, the audience being the students and faculty of Aditi and the faculty of Srishti.

It was an emotive, incendiary performance. I am always suspicious of art that reeks of emotion and, worse, activism that appeals to emotion. True, rhetoric works at many levels – there is the appeal to reason, the appeal to emotion and the appeal to morals/values. When emotion becomes overpowering, I resist it!

The performance reminded me of the zeal of the evangelical Christian missionaries of the 19th and 20th centuries. Their power and spheres of influence faded as their values and methods were picked up, imitated and translated better across ethnic, geographical and religious boundaries. Now anyone is “free” to reform the “ills” of society. A good thing that is too!

I was also reminded of Thomas Huxley’s fear and warning that the next persecuted lot of human beings would be the “Humanists”. By “Humanists”, he meant those who have placed their trust in science and nature, the innate goodness of human nature and the undying knowledge and certainty that human beings are self-sufficient in themselves in terms of intelligence and innovation and that they can solve their own problems given enough time and opportunity. Indeed!
The performance itself used five “scenarios”.

The first episode (and here) took us to street children and their lot.

The second
took us to the in the country within which feudal lords are inevitably aided and abetted by government babus and the judicial system in their efforts to evict and grab the land from those who have lived on it and off it for centuries.

The third episode took us into the life situation of the Untouchables, the bhangis (scavengers, sweepers, shit-carriers), the “scum” of the caste-based Indian society, the oppressed Dalits who are forced to serve the middle class bourgeoisie and the elite by daily shovelling away their shit.

The fourth
took us into the life of a Muslim woman who survived the 1989 massacre of Muslims by Hindus in Chanderi. Her family of 16 was among hundreds killed by fundamentalist, fanatic Hindus, sympathisers of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar outfits, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishat and the Bajrang Dal, in India.

The fifth took us to outcast lepers and a “good” bureaucrat who helps them build a community, gets them off begging and helps them how to find dignity.

The script of the performance is open source. You can find it here, download it and use it.”

Thanks for the write-up and pics Avy.