Students using theater to 'Revive Mumbai'

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Since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in India, Brandeis students have mobilized to form a new social change organization, Revive Mumbai. They have raised funds, created a proposal for an undergraduate scholarship, and met with the city's community and religious leaders.

This summer, their effort is taking takes them directly into the Wadala slum community to create an original theater play with underprivileged children, that was performed on June 29. They are also documenting their experiences through a blog.

During the spring semester, Revive Mumbai conceived of the summer internship program, which is student-run and funded, that would take a group of Brandeis students to Mumbai from late May until July. They formed local partnerships with the Parivartan School, a center that educates children of the Wadala community; AID Mumbai, a non-profit foundation devoted to alleviating poverty in India; and the Experimental Theater Foundation (ETF), which uses artistic and creative expression to inspire social change. 

Four students -- alumnus Juhi Chadha '09, Sriya Srikrishnan '12, Ria Chadha '11, and Zohar Fuller '10 -- are participating in the program in Mumbai. They've spent the last few weeks getting oriented to the theater foundation’s methods through extensive training, and have led daily improvisational exercises. Their goal is to work with the students to produce an original street play about their lives, hoping to empower each child to think broadly about his or her future.

The Revive students aim to explore how certain sections of Indian society are left out of the current paradigm of development, fostering some of the misunderstanding and frustration that the Brandeis students believe can lead to terrorist acts. The group also hopes that this experience grows into a sustainable program that builds community in Mumbai.

The Revive students are among many Brandeis students doing independent summer projects and internships around the world. 

For more information on Brandeis connections to India, please visit the Brandeis-India Initiative Web site.

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