Power dance

Mallika Sarabhai is one of the few Indian classical dancers performing in Britain who has undergone the rigorous training required to shape a dancer of distinction. Her mother ran one of the biggest performing arts academies in India so Mallika began dancing when she was four. ‘It takes eight years of basic training to become literate. Then you start your education,’ she explains. Now dancing is like a third language. ‘To say classical dance is limiting is like saying the English alphabet is limiting. You can create an ABC out of it and someone else can create a haiku poem. The limit is in your own mind.‘

Having taken a PhD in Organisational Behaviour. Mallika Sarabhai is naturally analytical ofher surroundings. Divided into six parts, Shakti the Power of Women delves into the problems she dealt with twelve years ago in her doctorate. ‘I am talking about how men define power as anything that women do not do. Certain aspects of behaviour that were considered powerful decades ago might today be considered powerless because they are no longer in the male domain. A job like teaching falls into such a category.‘

Shakti tells the story of six Indian women, two from mythology. two from medieval history and two from the present day. The aim is to illustrate how female power has often been unacknowledged: the power of the intellect, of wit or of non-violence. Although the examples are all taken from Indian culture Mallika points out that India has been ahead of most countries in terms ofliberation. ‘Hinduism. which affects about 80 per cent of India. is the only religion where


women do not come second. We did i

not come out of Adam‘s rib and we were not treated as second-class citizens.‘ (.io Roe)

Shakti the Power of Women is at George Square Theatre. Edinburgh, 5 Nov; MacRobertArts Centre, Stirling 10, Nov.

Mallika Sarabhai

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have some kind at chronic crisis in their . lives, something that’s gone wrong long belore they became ill. Each character finds a way at using this crisis, the illness, to lind a way through / and turn everything around; it’s about - ,t that kind at Iiberation.’ 9 .7;

The humour in the play comes / ' "‘9‘ directly trom Franceschild’s own ‘1 experience. ‘A lot at the iokesl /’ remembered trom when my sister'nad breast cancer, and also when l was ill - it was amazing how much we laughed. lt’s partly survival humour, but it’s also to do with breaking taboos when everyone's tiptoeing around you. As a writer, my approach is that you can get away with taking audiences all kinds at places they wouldn’t normally go, it you give them a chance to balance at the other end of the spectrum, provide that release at tension through humour.’

The decision to write about a uniquely iemale experience was a





Mention of an oddball, zany. cult musical inevitably brings to mind images of fishnet stockings. Tim (‘urry and various other riff-raft. Baby has been christened in those terms and yet its only quirk appears to be that it touches on the sensitive issues of pregnancy and childbirth. I spoke to director Roger Haines. who will be bringingThc Manchester

deliberate one. ‘The breast is such a tibrary Thea": . in w w men are i (’mPanyspro ucttonto potentsymbol in e ay 0 Edinburgh.

socialised; it’s to do with motherhood, with nurturing, with sexuality; I wanted to explore how women are deiined through these roles. That’s where the title tits in- a cow being a nasty term tor a woman, and then the cowiumping overthe moon, doing something impossible. Hopetully people will see the play and think about these issues, . notiust about cancer.‘ (Sue Wilson) j

‘I suppose that it‘s considered oddball because it is a musical and i has huge, wonderful. epic numbers. The response is “I low can you write a musical about having a baby?". In a play. that's fine. There‘s a lot of plays been written about that subject but in a musical I think that it is a bit oddball and a bit off the wall because it is not the normal subject matter for musicals. Although. as we know, any subject can now be made into a

musical.‘ V NEW PLAY . explains Neilson. ‘He played with The pedigree ofthosc ideas and these led him to involved in Baby. oddball - tree-thinking, deism and a humanist 0r "0“ Certainly takes a-Rosre

; Donna Franceschild

E A iunny, optimistic play set in a breast cancerward might sound like a

; contradiction in terms, but this is how i writer Donna Franceschild describes

5 her new Traverse play, And The Cow

? Jumped OverThe Moon. ‘l consider it a very positive piece,’ she says. ‘l was

I interested in the ways cancer can be used as a kind at metaphortor deeper

? problems - all the women in the play

And The Cow Jumped OverThe Moon plays at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 2-25 Nov, 7.30pm.

approach to iiie.‘ For’polltical as well “"mc “um”? I “6. m“ as theological reasons this displeased :19” pcnnc‘j by B'Chm .. i .iltvarJhe man the Kirk, still jittery alter William ot respodsiblc for the hugely Orange s ascensron to the throne. acclaimed nutt- sargon. Aitkenhead was tried tor blasphemy whilst the music is the (ironically under a pro-Catholic law work of David Shire, one passed by Charles ll), tound guilty and of Hollywood‘s most sentenced to death, as an example to respected composers- any other would-be dissenters. “f’mF” “'7‘???th " in?“ Solar, the story is well documented. $21.“ But who initially denounced him, and and Pam“. minim ,0 why, is less clear. In the play, it’s the Britain. “c has also ministerAndrew Meldrum, who thinks already dabbled in the less the student deserves a short-sharp- than ordinary, as he shook kind at punishment. Dismayed explains- by the severity ol the sentence, he tries 'RCS‘Cni'i “'0 Produced to help Aitkenhead, but events have mus‘éalca'W. :f’f‘fg' moved beyond his control. ‘Not long ’Y‘Z'w‘ih'?“ “5 d5? 0" , e Diary ofAnne Frank. , alter the execution, says Neilson. Again I had a similar”, ‘Me'dfllm it"0N3 a Pamphlet 300M "'8 ofinitial reaction of'How i importance OI informing on can we do a musical on ' blasphemers. It’s a very tortuous and Anne Frank? It'd be like desperate kind at piece which reeks ol Springtime For Hit/er. but gum) it went extremely well. If Contemporary parallels tor WC d d0“ 3” "Pm “b0” . Anne Frank. nobodv biasphemers and iniormers aren t hard would have batted ah to tind - Rushdie and the Romanian mud. “.5 a“ abou, this Securlatate are perhaps the most w'ord musican wm, obvious examples. Such links aren't tmosieai', one always deliberately underlined by Rosie - thinks ofchorus people. ‘apart,’ concludes Allan Sharpe, ‘trom glitz and flashing lights the general relevance at whether one O‘COUFSC‘ Ii is" ‘1'“ that should have a law oi blasphemy in such :nd a pluralistic society?’ « ' Deiinitely contentious stutt. (Ken COCkbum) Baby will beat The King '5 The Blasphemer is at The Netherbow, - 7-;,,.am,_ [5.1,-,,b,,,g;,fm,,, Edinburgh, Wed 7—Sat 17 Nov. , 5—10 November.

‘We havenae done a bad show yet,’ says Theatre Co-Op's Allan Sharpe without a trace at smugness. And he and director Sandy Nellson are contident that their new production, The Blasphemer, by investigative journalist George Rosie, will continue a tradition. it may be Rosie's lirst play, but Neilson considers it ‘extraordinarlly well written and mature.’

' Set in 1967, The Blasphemertells the

i true story at Thomas Aitkenhead. ‘lle

‘, was a student at Edinburgh University,‘

intelligent new product.‘ (Philip Parr)

The List 30 ()Cltilk‘l‘ —- 8 November l‘)‘)tl51