Jana Natya Manch

New Delhi, India

Jana Natya Manch (People's Theatre, also known as 'Janam') is an amateur theatre group based in New Delhi. It was set up in 1973, and is best known for its radical, politically left-wing street theatre. In January 1989, Janam was attacked during a performance in support of industrial workers by goons of the ruling vested interests. Safdar Hashmi, one of the founder members of the group and at that time its Convenor, was killed in this attack, as was a spectator, Ram Bahadur. Since then, every year, Janam has gone back to the site of the attack (an industrial suburb at Jhandapur, Sahibabad, just across the border from Delhi) on 1st January to perform in memory of its fallen comrade and leader. In 2012, Janam inaugurated its permanent premises in Delhi, which includes an experimental performance and workspace called Studio Safdar. Over the years, the group has produced about 80-odd street and 20-odd proscenium plays, apart from other performances including poetry reading performances and 'happenings'. Overall, the group has performed its plays some 8000 times in about 150 towns and villages of India. The group toured the US in 2007 and the UK in 2013. Janam is known as one of the pioneers of the street theatre movement in India, and their work is distinguished by its sharply political content and artistic innovation. The group works in close collaboration with a large number of grassroots organisations, including trade unions, women's organisations, students' organisations, etc.

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