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INDIA: Theatre is therapy

Veteran theatre artist MK Raina talks about his memoir, 'Before I Forget' at India International Centre | Photo: Triya Gulati, ThePrint

During a talk on his recently published memoir, Before I Forget, at the India International Centre on May 29, Indian theatre actor and director MK Raina shared his experiences of working in the Kashmir Valley, where he held acting workshops and collaborated with artists who had been threatened by militants for performing.

"Raina’s workshops in the Valley from 2005 to 2012 were instrumental in reviving the traditional folk drama of Kashmir, called Bhand Pather. ‘Bhand’ means actor or performer and ‘pather’ means ‘to play’. The militants banned these performances because they deemed them “un-Islamic.” But Raina was determined to breathe life into the Valley’s culture."

"For Raina, it was not just about art. By working with communities that have endured trauma, he intended to introduce theatre as a “healing tool”.

For another theatre performance in Jammu, Raina brought together children from Kashmiri Pandit and Muslim households of the Valley.

This decision was criticised by many of his associates and friends. People were scared that the children might hold anger and hatred for the other community.

“Children were traumatised. They used to faint while talking. Most of them had seen their fathers being shot dead. Those 50 kids were proof that the society has undergone psychological damage,” he said.

Raina was aware that typical drama training wouldn’t work in Kashmir, so he would always take a child specialist and an educationist along with him. Later, he requested his friends from the Valley to put him in touch with some mothers or women who had lost their husbands.


"According to him, theatre can be an agent of change, and he is hopeful for the future."

Read the full article by Triya Gulati for ThePrint.


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