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CHRONICLES FROM KASHMIR

Creating immersive, theatrical experiences to draw attention to Kashmir's artists & to spark more educated conversations about the Valley

Photo of Nandita
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Information for/from Outsiders: Chronicles from Kashmir has been in development since 2013, as a collaboration between Dr. Nandita Dinesh and the Ensemble Kashmir Theatre Akademi in Srinagar. Chronicles from Kashmir uses Argentine playwright Griselda Gambaro’s (1992) Information for Foreigners as its point of departure; it takes place in the promenade and is site-adaptive -- we've staged it in a two storied building in Kashmir, and in a sprawling theatre workspace in western India. Different scenes take place in different locales and audience members walk around under the supervision of 'Guides' who tell them the route to take.

Chronicles from Kashmir seeks to create a sense of “balance”: between differently positioned voices that emerge when speaking about Kashmir; between differently placed narratives on the “victim”/“perpetrator” spectrum. While there is an inevitable streak of political commentary that runs throughout the work – a political current that cannot be escaped when talking about Kashmir – Chronicles from Kashmir does not espouse any one political ideology. We see ourselves as being artists and educators, using aesthetics and pedagogy to engage audiences with diverse perspectives from/about the Valley.

Chronicles from Kashmir, like any other performance, has its limitations. It can never do justice to all the narratives that compose Kashmir... It's a step, though, a small step toward engaging audiences in stories and experiences that mainstream media might never share with them; a small step toward sparking more educated -- and less polarized -- opinions about what is happening in the region.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

In 2017, Chronicles from Kashmir was performed as a 24-hour creation for the first time. In July 2018, we are creating a film of the work and are preparing for the book launch of the script. As of August 2018, we hope to take steps toward the initiatives articulated below. While the ideas below are framed as being targeted toward the Indian subcontinent and the United States -- simply because of where team members are based at the moment -- we would be delighted to collaborate with interested partners anywhere in the world. Within the Indian Subcontinent Every year, we hope to share the 24-hour experience of Chronicles from Kashmir in a different state of India -- using that performance to catalyse partnerships between individuals/ groups in that state, and the artists who are part of Chronicles from Kashmir. Subsequent partnership events could include: more performances of Chronicles from Kashmir for different audience groups in the state that hosted the "catalyst" performance, showcases of other performances from EKTA’s repertoire, workshops that are conducted by EKTA artists for different target populations in that state, and/ or the creation of "exchange" programs for individuals/ groups from that state to visit EKTA in Srinagar and thus gain embodied insights into the Valley's realities. Outside the Indian Subcontinent Since Dr. Dinesh is based in the United States, the film of Chronicles from Kashmir and the recorded narratives from the soon-to-be-launched Digital Archive, will be used to design events in collaboration with educational institutions and South Asian interest groups in the region. These efforts seek to encompass our two primary goals: -- to showcase the work of Kashmir's theatre artists -- to spark more nuanced conversations about Kashmir's conflicts

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are Kashmiri theatre artists, particularly those who work with EKTA. In addition, our beneficiaries are also our audiences -- "outsiders" who will leave the work with a more complex understanding of the various competing agendas that serve to perpetuate the instability in the region.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

To our knowledge, this degree of immersion -- and duration -- has not been in used in any other theatrical effort to address war. More so because this work is also a collaboration between individuals who come from "warring" sides of the ongoing conflict: Indian and Kashmiri.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

For more information on "Chronicles from Kashmir", please see: https://chroniclesfromkashmir.org/ For more information on the Ensemble Kashmir Theatre Akademi, please see: http://ektakashmir.org.in/introduction.php For more information on Dr. Nandita Dinesh, please see: https://uwc-usa.academia.edu/NanditaDinesh

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years
  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Other

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The project began as a doctoral undertaking for Dr. Dinesh and has since developed immensely, as the team discovered the need/ potential for a work like "Chronicles from Kashmir".

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Recent times have seen polarizing debates emerge on the Indian subcontinent, about Kashmir. It is for this reason that we see an intervention like "Chronicles from Kashmir" as being able to create a bridge: between peace & prosperity; between Kashmir's artists and Indian civil society; between outsiders to the conflict and to those who have lived experiences of its realities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

As described earlier, there are multiple layers of partners that are needed for this project. At the central point, lies the collaboration between Dr. Dinesh & EKTA; then we have the relationships we seek to build with potential hosts for this work across the world, with an emphasis on the Indian subcontinent; finally, we have our spectators -- spectators that, we hope, will become future partners in sharing experiences from Kashmir with more "outsiders".

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Kashmir has a burgeoning population of incredible artists: poets, filmmakers, performers, directors, musicians, craftspeople; all of whom are using their particular aesthetic craft to respond to/ engage with ongoing conflict in the region. Some of these approaches are explicit; others, more implicit. The scale of "Chronicles from Kashmir" allows us to invite new artists to come on board each year: highlighting not only the complexities of the conflict, but the resilience of the Valley's peoples.

Geographic Focus

Primary Focus: Kashmir & the Indian subcontinent

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

As we have already implemented a pilot, we are looking at a three year timeline to heighten the reach and impact of this work.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Photo of Morgan C
Team

This is a fascinating idea! I'd be curious to know if you're connected with other organizations using theater and the arts to bridge conflict (e.g. in Israel and Palestine, etc.). Has there been an effort to share methodologies and impact measurement frameworks with them? Finally, how would you define the success of this initiative? Best of luck, this sounds great.

Photo of Nandita
Team

Thanks, Morgan!

At the moment, we're sharing methodologies through writing (https://chroniclesfromkashmir.org/#/the-books/) and yes, we are indeed looking to build connections with other organizations in conflict zones. As you might imagine, the process is slow and is often impeded by volatility in the local contexts.

Success for this initiative would mean a sustained interest on the part of spectators, with the issues in Kashmir. We hope to track this by looking at audience members' sustained connection with members of the artistic team, and their desire to help foster partnerships between us and their communities (i.e., their interest developing more programming that invites Kashmiri artists to their contexts; their interest in visiting Kashmir and collaborating with individuals/groups there). Admittedly, we're still in the early stages of this impact assessment. Having tested the "product" in 2017, we are in the process of building frameworks to help ascertain tangible and intangible impacts.

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