'unSEEN' a devised solo performance based on Rabidranath Tagore's letter with reference to Pandita Ramabai's speech.

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by Kalyanee Mulay (proposing) on Friday, January 16, 2015

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Process of making performance- Though a solo performance piece; ‘unSEEN’; is evolved from collaborative efforts from the director Vishnupad Barve, Kalyanee Mulay as a performer and the members of Process TheaterZ who all were part of residency for ‘unSEEN’. After having experienced this wonderful process of making a performance piece, we strongly believe that by truly working as collective of artists and utilizing all our individual abilities, one could produce work which could be more relevant to whom he/she is artistically and personally. We are questioning the authorship of one person in theater either director/writer/performer, we based our self in democratic ground, where we stayed together and questioned the author within us.
Performance -As performance creator we began our journey at this point exploring Tagore’s gaze in reference to his letter. What is a woman? Gender politics is nature driven or religion, social / moral values are its backbones? In this performance we are trying to understand notion of gender and position of woman.
Whenever a woman’s body appears in a space, her body too often speaks for itself. It becomes the object of the gaze, an object of desire.This performance tries to tickle and disrupt the conventional cultural association with the female body.This performance is a small step towards reclaiming the female body not only in performance but also in social context; at the same time it’s an attempt to understand what it means to be a female in a patriarchal society.


‘unSEEN’ (a devised solo performance) is based on Rabidranath Tagore’s letter- Ramabai-er Baktritar Upalakhse, [Letter with reference to Ramabai’s speech] by Rabindranath Tagore, in 1891.] In 1891, Tagore had gone to attend a lecture by Pandita Ramabai where she said that women can do anything that men can, except drinking alcohol. In highly disputable response to Ramabai, Tagore points out how nature has made woman weaker than men physically and intellectually and necessity upon them to follow nature’s low of compensation. Surprisingly, he favoured the male over the female with tenuous, uncharacteristic arguments based on biological determinism. This comes as a surprise somewhat since Tagore is renowned for being an unwavering if anachronistic champion of the ‘feminine’ at a time when the world was yet to wake up to feminism. His oeuvre bears an extraordinary commitment to women’s issues and an empathetic understanding of the same. Taking off it as a response, Process TheaterZ- ‘unSeen’ is a critique of how society shapes the idea of femininity or ‘woman’ across cultures. In thorough interrogation performance examines aspects like woman’s self, her body, the male gaze, biological cycle of life (menstruation, motherhood, pain and surrender) deification and objectification of woman and her life in patriarchal order; producing critic of each simultaneously. Whole performance is consisted of three major elements sound installation, non verbal performance and recitation of letter. All images have emerged through collaboration with performer’s body, objects, space and sound. Performance is devised through collaborative method between director/ designer Vishnupad Barve and actress/performer-Kalyanee Mulay.

Speaker bio

As a perfomer of ‘unSEEN’, I am nominating our performance on behalf of Process TheaterZ and team ‘unSEEN’ under the section ‘performance’.