Out of Water

San Francisco, California, June 2013 Performed in performance pieces Out of Water (devised and conceptualized by artists Helen Paris and Caroline Wright) Reflections As we all stood there at the beach behind a rope that divided us from our shadows watching the sun rise and the waves crash against the shore, I tried to memorize the moment so that I could recall it later when it is no more. I tried hard to sniff the air as much as I could to remember the smell of sand and salty water,…

Divided Together

Adapted and directed by Sukanya Chakrabarti Nitery Theater in the Old Union, March 8, 10, 2013 Excerpt from Stanford University: Drama Graduate Student Showcase (link) “Two friends there were – one mind, one heart.”  The two men are best of friends till both of them fall in love with the same woman, Padmini, and one of them marries her. She is in love with her husband’s mind, and the other man’s body. In an act of sacrifice, the two men chop off their heads in a temple to the Goddess Kali.…

The Devadasis of South India: Performing Shame in Shame

…shame effaces itself; shame points and projects; shame turns itself skin side out; shame and pride, shame and dignity, shame and self-display, shame and exhibitionism are different interminglings of the same glove. Shame, it might finally be said, transformational shame, is performance.[i] And shame is not only performance; shame is often also a performative identity thrust upon an individual, a group or a nation. As shame also closely intermingles with respectability, I argue through the course of this paper how identities are formed, transformed and even subordinated within the performative…

The Body and Its Memories: The Trauma of Partition in Hayavadana

‘You cannot engrave on water, Nor wound it with a knife Which is why The river has no fear of memories’ – Girish Karnad, Hayavadana The midnight of August 14, 1947 witnessed a separation that defined lives thereafter. The body of a nation was split and sundered – the union of India split into Pakistan, India and East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh). While families were separated, the nations’ body stored their memories, which were spatialized and brought forth through numerous cathartic writings and art practices in the post-Independence days.…

The trees outside my library

Thursday, January 31, 2013 An incredible surge of emotions choke me. My throat keeps gurgling, as if this mammoth lava of emotions is struggling to erupt through my lungs, through my windpipe, bringing forth all that has been building up inside for days. Unnamed emotions, unnamed worries, stress, pressure, I can go on, trying to name that unnameable ‘thing’. Language fails me. I’m mute. I’m crying. As I rush out of the library to avoid being seen, I sit right outside. It’s almost dusk. The sun has just set. The…

About Me

I am an artist-scholar and Assistant Professor in Theatre Studies at the School of Theatre and Dance, San Francisco State University. I received my doctoral degree in Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford in June 2016. My dissertation, completed under the guidance of Dr. Jisha Menon, was awarded the Charles R. Lyons Memorial Prize for Outstanding Dissertation. My research project was supported by the Graduate Research Opportunities Award in Stanford, which facilitated my fieldwork in India and Bangladesh during the summer of 2013 and 2014; and the Wisch Fellowship by…

Workshop by Lois Weaver

November 2012 ‘Where do you come from?’ – I am rolling this question around in my mind, trying to remember where I come from. From Kolkata? From India? From Bangladesh? From homelessness? From an undefined state of nostalgia? As Lois Weaver introduced several questions for us to think about when we all sat around a circle, I realized we were going somewhere from ‘here’ – the present moment. Within the next few days, about fifteen of us were grouping and regrouping together, playing games, brainstorming ideas, creating rituals and performance…