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Indo-American artist Anu Yadav, making waves in theater world

Written by: Staff

Washington, July 23 (UNI) Like all the twenty somethings, armed with degrees and dreams, Anu Yadav also landed in Washington DC to pursue something worthwhile.

Within a year of her moving into the city, she came across people struggling to save their dwellings and turned that into a play, which has been performed in the last one year to full houses at several Washington DC theaters.

Weaving together theater, documentary and activism, Anu Yadav has written, acted and contributed to the production of 'Capers', a one-woman show based on the stories of families at the Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg public housing projects in southeast Washington DC.

The residents in this low-cost housing community were forced to re-locate when their dwellings were demolished under a city improvement project. They protested the government-funded relocation and demolition of their neighborhood but in vain.

The play chronicles the residents' grassroot struggle to protect their interests when the projects were targeted for razing and redevelopment under a federal grant.

Anu Yadav was honored recently with the ''2006 Mayor's Arts Award Finalist for Outstanding Emerging Artist'' for her solo play Capers.

In an interview with UNI, Anu Yadav said she always liked theater and when she set out to find acting roles for herself, very few were offered to ''people who look like me (immigrant).'' ''So I created my own role.'' Anu Yadav grew up in Iowa where her father, an immigrant from Uttar Pradesh, worked as a civil engineer. He died when she was eleven and Anu moved to Kansas with her mother, who lives and works there.

The 28-year old travelled on a 22,000 dollar Watson fellowship to India, Brazil and South Africa to study street and community theater techniques. In India, she met a dedicated theater group called the Jana Natya Manch and Safdar Hashmi.

The groups' commitment to social activism and their dedication to transform political issues that are into play, left a deep impression on her and she learned a lot from the group, she said.

She travelled along cities in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala, as well Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. In one of her trips, she met bidi workers and their struggle for a living left a deep impression on her.

Anu, a History graduate from Bryn Mawr, an all women's college, has also done a stint in creative writing. She said she was teaching creative writing to some children at Capper/Carrollsburg housing unit when the demolition issue arose and the idea for the play was born.

She wrote ''Capers'', based on three years of her experiences and interviews with residents at the Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg public housing projects and although it's not exactly a documentary play, it has that kind of feel.

Anu explains, ''I like acting, I like writing, I like talking to people. I thought maybe I could combine all those things and document some of the people's stories in the neighborhood before it vanished and before people moved out. So I asked the people I knew, 'Can I interview you? I'll put it together in a play?' And they agreed. Thus ''Capers'' gives voice to the voiceless.

Right now she is concentrating on involving teenagers and young people to create a theater group dedicated to social activism.

She says it is kind of lonely to be a solo performer. ''I want to be with other people so you could be connected to people.'' She is also attending a workshop next month in Toronto, Canada in connection with the international HIV/AIDS conference. And perhaps come back with more ideas for a play.

''Capers'' is produced by Bare Stage Productions, LLC and funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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