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DMU historian to lead discussion about explosive new drama

An academic from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is to use her expertise to lead after-show discussions about an explosive new drama being premiered at the city’s Curve theatre, before it embarks on a national tour.

Pink Sari Revolution tells the story of the real-life struggle of the Gulabi (Pink) Gang and its leader Sampat Pal, who campaigned for women’s rights, both in India and on the international stage, while wearing instantly recognisable blazing-pink saris.

Dr Pippa Virdee, senior lecturer in Modern South Asian History at DMU, is to lead the after-show discussion with director Suba Das on Tuesday 3 October to look into the themes of equality, oppression, justice and abuse as well as discuss the power wielded by women when campaigning together.

The performances at Curve are being sponsored by DMU as part of its commitment to being a public good in the Leicester community, through #DMUlocal, and overseas through its Square Mile India project, as well as its support for the arts and the spirit of challenging convention.

Earlier this year first-year Health Studies student Fatima Mohammed flew out to Chitrakoot, India to work alongside Curve Associate Director Suba Das and Curve Associate Artist Aakash Odedra on the research and development of Pink Sari Revolution, which is based on the book by Amana Fontanella-Khan.

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Dr Virdee said: “It is wonderful to see a production like this coming here to Leicester, where there is a significant South Asian population but also a young population. I mention the youth because they are the future and should take heart and hope from a play like this.

“I think this production should not be seen in isolation, it touches upon the themes of power and resistance in a very emotive and powerful way.

“In an age where many of us, especially women, feel helpless to change things around us, this story inspires you with its everyday resistance. It is set in north India from where the story is set but the courage with which these women rise and resist local oppression will leave you inspired and with hope. 

“Equality is not just a problem in India, it is a much broader and wider problem of the modern world. Women of course are often at the receiving end, especially in patriarchal societies such as India. This story also challenges that convention and gives hope to those wishing to change their lives and fight oppression.” 

In July 2016, Curve received a £100,000 award as part of Arts Council England’s Reimagine India scheme, which aims to develop new work and collaborations between arts and cultural organisations in England and India. The project marks the 70th anniversary of the partition of India and Pakistan.

In a joint statement, Curve’s chief executive Chris Stafford and artistic director Nikolai Foster said: “Our commitment to commissioning and creating new work at Curve is stronger than ever. As well as entertaining, theatre holds a mirror to society and challenges the injustices of our times. The powerful true story of Pink Sari Revolution does both of these things brilliantly.

“We are proud to welcome such an astonishing group of actors and production team to Leicester to realise this ambitious and epic story. After the world premiere here at Curve, we are thrilled this production will be shared with venues around the UK.

"We are indebted to our producing partners at Belgrade Theatre Coventry, West Yorkshire Playhouse and English Touring Theatre, our project funders Arts Council England and British Council, and sponsorship from DMU for enabling us to tell this incredible story.”

Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in The Badlands of India recounts the real-life story of India’s ‘Pink Sari Gang’, an activist sisterhood and mass movement of more than 20,000 pink-sari-wearing women across Northern India who fight against the oppression of women.

The story focuses on leader, Sampat Pal, and the 2010 campaign to free falsely imprisoned teenager Sheelu Nishad after she was raped by a prominent local politician. Pink Sari Revolution premiered at Curve and runs until Saturday 7 October, prior to a UK tour. It will then be performed in parts of India in 2018.

Posted on: Friday 29 September 2017

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