Kaivalya Plays has launched the Safety Research Study to critically evaluate the state of physical, mental, financial & legal safety in Indian Contemporary Performing Arts. We plan to do so through a combination of an armchair and empirical research involving surveying at least 300 independent practitioners and conducting at least 30 case studies over the period of one year in 2021. This is a completely self-funded project at the moment. This project was shortlisted for a research grant and is awaiting the results of another research grant.
Meanwhile, WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please do contribute generously, whatever you deem fit towards this research project. Your contribution will go towards the payment of logistical, material, academic, labor, and possibly travel costs associated with the project. It will really help in expanding the scope and reach of this study.
About the Project
This research study focuses on investigating existing practices, patterns, problems, and lack thereof, in the context of safety in the performing arts from the lens of individual practitioners working with formal or quasi-formal theatre groups, collectives, and institutions. It advocates for safety as a continuous, highly personalized practice that is neither a one-size-fits-all approach nor a set of rigid never-evolving rules, but something that is contextual and personalized to the needs of the individual practitioner or the group.
We have made our agenda and area of research accessible and scalable at the same time so that it is practically feasible for us to survey, document, develop, implement and follow up with the subjects involved over the course of this project. Hence, we stick to personal (individual) safety only and do not focus on infrastructural safety (as in the case of performing arts venues) or ecosystem safety (as in the case of regulatory bodies in the fields of arts and culture). We explore different aspects of safety for an individual practitioner in different scenarios and how theatre organizations (or the formal or quasi-formal workplaces of these practitioners) can build safety practices that incorporate different aspects around physical, mental, emotional, financial, and legal safety of the individual.
About Kaivalya Plays
Kaivalya Plays is an Indian performing arts company led by Varoon P. Anand as its Artistic Director and Gaurav Singh as General Manager. This Study is led by Varoon P. Anand, Nuhar Bansal, Gaurav Singh, and Stuti Kanoongo for Kaivalya Plays.
In 2018, we received a grant to create a theatrical production that studied the therapeutic effects of improv games (as pioneered by Viola Spolin) on mental health conditions. In the creation of that production, in order to protect the performers, we were compelled to bring in a drama therapist to help us ensure the safety of the cast members. The unique "safe space" practice we created through the production Unravel gave us tools and rituals for space, the performers, and the audience. This experience made us realize the acute scarcity of, and need for, conversations and systems in place around safety in theatre and, by extension, the performing arts.