The Creative Arts (TCA)
Exciting, experimental things happen at The Creative Arts Theater (TCA) in Kolkata, India. Established by Ramanjit Kaur, Director, in 2002, TCA uses the medium of theater to expand the imagination and experiences of children and adults new to theater. Plays develop through improvisation and explore often painful territory through collaborative dialogue across the arts. Productions are interactive on multiple levels—among artists from different fields and between actors and audience (http://www.thecreativearts.org). Nowhere is this intensity more apparent than in TCA’s head-on approach to the plight of women.
Theater as Therapy
In India and elsewhere women are voiceless, second-class citizens with limited opportunities, constrained by institutionalized patriarchal constructs. In TCA’s theater therapy, deep, self-probing, self-actualization theatrical training exercises demand that the participants connect with and bear their hearts and souls, their anxieties, secrets, sorrows and joys. The training empowers women to find their voices, to gain the confidence needed to engage in the world discourse around them and to build productive mutually beneficial relationships with family and friends. TCA training exhilarates. It awakens, or reawakens, a woman’s awareness of and commitment to the importance of self and having a voice in our collective humanity.
Beyond Borders Production
The all-female cast of Beyond Borders explores boundaries of nationality, caste, color, ethnicity, gender, sexuality—all those walls men erect to garner socio-economic resources to ease their fears, insecurities, and hunger for power. Beyond Borders questions whether these boundaries are more important than humanity itself. Two poems by Neal Hall – Blood On Our Hands and Where Do I Sit- were used to inform the play and to provide dialogue.
The Poet-Collaborator’s Response
I was honored to have participated in this brilliant production. Rarely does one have the chance to witness complete mastery and genius merged together on the same stage. Beyond Borders does this in the most powerful means possible. On par, if not surpassing Les Miserables, Beyond Borders is one of the best, if not the best, theater productions I’ve ever witnessed. It is a remarkable, must-see production.
It began with an entrance that grabs your sight and inches its way step by step, act by act to snatch your soul from your chest and have you exam it, in its role in racism, sexism, class and caste offenses against our common humanity. The powerful actresses were committed to telling, embodying, crying, bleeding these issues on the canvas of the stage. There were no let downs in passion, intensity, the acting from one actress to the next. Each equally carried the weight of our offensives on their backs and shoulders across Borders’ stage.
The background narratives of the production were just as powerful, informative and harmonious as the spotlighted narratives dramatized in the stage foreground. Much was said without words. In many portions of the play words would never, could never convey, speak definitively of the gut –wrenching pain the actresses dig so deep from inside themselves, their personal pains and sadness, to bring forth to listening hearts. The ending leaves you wanting the beginning again.