Festival zooms in on pain of displacement

The curtain fell on the three-day annual Vikram Sarabhai International Arts Festival, hosted by city-based Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, in Ahmedabad on Monday. The 38th edition of the festival, which espoused the voices of people displaced by development, saw the premiere of three new productions by Darpana performers. Choreographed by British-Dutch Naomi Deira, the productions explored different aspects of the issues of displacement.

"We got an overwhelming response to the theme we chose this year. For the productions, we undertook a small survey about people who have been displaced by development to meet the city's housing or civic needs and found that their plight was appalling. It is exactly what we have tried to portray in the performances," said Sudarshan Nair, marketing manager of Natrani at Darpana Academy.

The first dance-theatre production, Unearthed, directed by Yadavan Chandran and Mallika Sarabhai, was adapted from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short story by Gowri Ramnarayan. It spoke about the fear and insecurity that comes from internal personal displacement of the self. The second day saw LDR, a one-man multimedia production on long-distance relationships created and performed by actor-dancer Revanta Sarabhai. It dealt with the rootlessness and lack of sense of belonging of those who choose displacement for themselves - either going abroad for better economic prospects or being divided by time and circumstance from their moorings.

The last day saw the production titled The Damned, which brought to the fore the issue of internally displaced persons, especially from the marginalised sections of the society, forced from their homes due to ethnic conflict, development projects, government actions. It also involved a few people from communities that have faced displacement.

Darpana, the arts institution founded by Vikram and Mrinalini Sarabhai in 1949 and run by Mallika Sarabhai since 1977, has been using the arts to bring attention to a series of social issues for many years.

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