Performance and Discussion: Kultar’s Mime

This event is part of our new initiative, Communities Against Hate: Response and Resilience in Multireligious Boston.

Date and Time: Sun, April 9, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Location: Tsai Auditorium, CGIS South, Harvard University, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Please register here for your free tickets

“Kultar’s Mime is a powerful drama, vividly evoking the experience of violence that beset Sikhs in Delhi following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The voices of violation connect these events to murderous pogroms the world over.”
-Dr. Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University & Director of the Pluralism Project

You are invited to the Harvard performance of Kultar’s Mime, a play that blends painting, poetry, theater and music to tell the stories of Sikh children who survived the 1984 Delhi massacre that was organized in the wake of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination. A collective of young Jewish artists decides to commemorate a 1903 Pogrom that targeted Jews in the Russian town of Kishinev. During their journey, they learn about the 1984 massacre of the Sikhs in Delhi and in a powerful moment of embracing the pain of the ‘other’, they shift focus and decide to tell a story that the world has largely ignored. The play incorporates text from two poems: Kultar’s Mime by Sarbpreet Singh and In The City Of Slaughter by Haim Bialik. The play, an unequivocal condemnation of sectarian violence and genocide, has evoked a powerful reaction from audiences all over the world that has affirmed the power of compassion to break the cycle of hatred that continues to plague humanity to this day. So far the play has been presented 75 times in 6 countries and has been seen by 15,000+. It brings a message of inclusion and compassion that is much needed in the troubled times we live in and has been hailed by Interfaith audiences all over the world. The has been performed at British and Scottish Parliament, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and  well known theater venues and universities all over the world. It has received terrific press coverage globally on NPR, BBC, The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Times of India, The Telegraph, The Pioneer, The Tribune, The National Scot etc.

REVIEWS

“Kultar’s Mime is a powerful drama, vividly evoking the experience of
One is used to seeing violence portrayed in theatrical performances – for example in a Shakespearean Play – but the horror of observation in such cases very often is limited by the time which has passed since the events being portrayed took place – which now are ‘Ancient History’. Kultar’s Mime is free of such masking by the passage of time … it cannot be set aside or dismissed as fiction. It is all too real. It is all too recent. To be witness to such cruelty – and to be reminded of its repetition in different places and at different times – made me ask myself if one should simply despair. If perhaps our ability to do evil puts humankind beyond redemption? I wonder how many other poems and plays should be being written just now – in order to record and remember those other many cruelties being suffered today by innocents throughout the world. Why then portray such horror if it leads to despair? I have tried to answer my own question thus. We simply cannot let evil win. No matter how hard it is – we must find hope that may allow good to prevail. Was it necessary and appropriate to portray the horrors of the massacre in 1984? Yes it was – because only by acknowledging how low we can fall have we a chance to repent and reform.”
-Baillie Norman MacLeod, Glasgow City Councilor

“Having tracked Delhi 1984 through the prism of law, I am struck by the sheer authenticity of Kultar’s Mime even as it takes creative liberties to drive home the enormity of the crime and its human implications. That it was all imagined far away in the US by a young woman, who had been inspired in turn by a poem by her own father, and expressed through actors who are not of Indian origin, makes this artistic achievement all the more remarkable.”
-Manoj Mitta, Writer, Journalist & Senior editor, The Times of India and The Indian Express

“Kultar’s Mime is a compelling work that examines the trauma- more so than the events- surrounding the tragic 1984 anti-Sikh riots. It does so through the eyes of the most vulnerable of mankind, that of children. The stark and economic nature of the production only underscores the violence and loss experienced by these characters, who tell their stories through a juxtaposition of poetic verse, body movement, and self-narrative. Even in its contemporality, Sarbpreet Singh’s use of poetry for telling the story, the actors’ emphatic gestures and postures, and the igniting of an intense emotional response in its audiences, all link “Kultar’s Mime” with the great dramaturgical traditions of classical India.”
-Dr. Cecelia Levin, Art Historian

“Kultar’s Mime is unusual in that the play employs a framing device of an earlier historical event as a way to explore a more recent one.  The production also centrally incorporates visual images of the 1984 massacre of the Sikh community prompted by the assassination of Indira Gandhi. But they are not literal or documentary, they are highly emotive and expressionistic, and in that way can communicate the various stories in a powerful, non-verbal manner. The play is also unusual because is written in free verse.  This heightened language has a particular impact; its rhythms present the events in a somewhat ritualistic way and intensify the emotional experience of the audience.”
-Professor Katherine Mendeloff, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor