The decade between 1980 and 1990 was a time of political upheaval and change in Nepal as the populace demanded a voice in the system that governed their lives. It was also an important period in the development of Nepal’s theatre as democracy was won with the help of the fledgling political theatre movement, which began in the university, was taken to the streets, and was emulated throughout the kingdom. Particularly important was the work of Asesh Malla of Sarwanam and Sunil Pokharel of Aarohan. The work culminated in the Jana Andolan (People’s Movement), which climaxed in April 1990. As the citizens of Nepal wrestled absolute power from the hands of their king the relationship between Nepal’s theatre and society was changed forever. This paper illuminates this exciting period and the people at the forefront of Nepal’s socially engaged theatre.
Carol C. Davis is an associate professor of theater at Franklin and Marshall College. She is also the founding artistic director of the Nepal Health Project, an educational and charitable theatre company that treks to villages throughout Nepal with plays and workshops on health and hygiene, and teaches creative dramatics to children in the orphanages of Kathmandu. Carol has acted and directed in California and Nepal, and her articles have appeared in Asian Theatre Journal, Theatre Symposium, Mime Journal, Education About Asia, Encyclopedia of Asian Theatre (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006), and Not For Sale: Bearing Witness, Making Politics (Melbourne: Spinifex Press, 2004).