As a drama therapist,I consistently evolve styles and methods to build a dialogue with the audience,one that is interactive, says Evan Hastings,who is trained in Augusto Boal’s theatre of the oppressed technique. He is currently presenting a play called Shadow Liberation,made after an interactive workshop with the students of Srishti School of Art,Design and Technology. The play was performed at Vivek High School in Chandigarh.
Hastings,based in the US,has worked in various countries with the youth and adults,including those in prisons and slums. His plays have addressed issues of gender violence,domestic violence and discrimination. Shadow Liberation explores several unresolved and universal conflicts and issues,and references a series of personal incidents which the students narrated,related to sexual and gender oppression and caste system.
The students created the script,with traditional shadow puppetry as a medium for dialogue and the audience was encouraged to provide solutions. As part of the workshop,we did many improvisational activities involving the body and mind and it was all a process to get varied reactions from the audience. For the actors,the process enabled a greater understanding of gender,and helped people understand one anothers stories, he says.
The interactive act involved splitting the stage into two,with the play being performed in front of the partition and the play of shadows depicting the memories of the characters behind it,with live and recorded music. We designed the production for the audience to interrupt and even change the text if they think it should be and we have had absorbing interventions, says Hastings.