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Performing Parables: Ragas and Sagas of Sundarban

ENGL 149.401
MW 3:30-5:00pm

A performance and research course co-taught by Amitav Ghosh, Ali Sethi and Brooke O’Harra. In this course writer Amitav Ghosh invites Penn students to engage his ongoing collaboration with the musician/performer Ali Sethi to stage his newest book Jungle Nama. Ghosh’s book Jungle Nama employs dwipdipoyar verse form and the popular folk tale of Bon Bibi the guardian spirit of the Sundarban to address the eroding ecosystem of the Sundarban. In this course students will work in a short intensive collaborative process with the artists to realize a lyric and musical performance of Jungle Nama.  

The class employs both academic research and performance methodologies to guide students through histories of traditional Indian performance and folk takes and a thorough examination of Ghosh’s source materials and influences (including studies of the Sundarban and its ecosystem). The course is co-taught with director Brooke O’Harra. O’Harra, Ghosh and Sethi will lead students in a rigorous process of research, development and rehearsal, culminating in a public performance of a musical version of Jungle Nama. All levels and experience are welcome. Performance roles will be cast based on individual interests. In addition to performance roles, students will assume responsibility for other aspects of the process and production. In advance of registration, students are asked to audition and/or interview for the course depending upon initial interest. Actors, singers, dancers, musicians, artists and scholars are all encouraged to apply. 

Space is limited. Permission required. Interested undergraduate students, please contact Brooke O'Harra by October 20th at boharra@sas.upenn.edu. Interested graduate students, please contact Deborah Thomas, deborah.thomas@sas.upenn.edu. Course runs January through March 4, with Sunday-Wednesday rehearsals in February. This course is cross-listed with ANTH 179, FNAR 149, SAST 179, and THAR 253.