WHAT IS NIRBHAYA?
NIRBHAYA was created in response to the violent gang rape and subsequent death of a Delhi medical student Jyoti Singh Pandey in December, 2012. "Nirbhaya" was the name given to Jyoti by the press as she lay fighting for her life in a hospital bed following her assault. It means "fearless."
NIRBHAYA is a play, but it also a call for societal change. In NIRBHAYA the play, the rape and death of Jyoti serves as the catalyst for each performer to bravely come forward and break their silence- recounting their own intimate and personal experiences of sexual and gender-based violence.
NIRBHAYA’S vision is to do nothing less than CHANGE THE WORLD by ending the silence on sexual violence and creating a fear-free society.
NIRBHAYA is written and directed by internationally acclaimed writer/director Yael Farber, in collaboration with an extraordinary cast and creative team from India.
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WHAT DO WE NEED?
NIRBHAYA premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2013 where it touched the lives of each and every one of over 6,000 audience members who packed the theatre.
With your help, we will raise the funds to bring NIRBHAYA to India where it can serve as a catalyst to change the lives of women and men. Our hope is for a revolution by lifting the veil of silence on sexual violence.
We need to raise £50,000 ($80,000/€60,000) now to make the early 2014 India tour a reality. (We have already secured £30,000 out of the total tour costs of £80,000.)
Our ultimate ambition would be to galvanise a broad base of support, with thousands of people registering their support of our goal to change the world and break the cone of silence around sexual violence by pledging.
HOW WAS NIRBHAYA BORN?
Jyoti Singh Pandey, a young physiotherapy student, died after a gang rape so violent that her intestines were ripped from her body. Despite her severe injuries, during her last two weeks, she found the strength to testify against her attackers, and ensured the perpetrators were brought to justice. In a society that often blames the victim for their own sexual assault, she used her dying days to demand accountability. Legally prevented from revealing her real name, the press called her “Nirbhaya” -- "fearless one”.
In response, the streets of India rose in protest against a system indifferent to and often critical of survivors of sexual assault. The Indian government attempted to quash this response with riot police, water cannons and arrests - but the protesters defied such intimidation. This furious Indian response was mirrored across the world. This young woman's death was a tipping point. The time for change had come.
It was in this volatile aftermath that an impassioned Indian actress, Poorna Jagannathan, reached out to playwright and director Yael Farber to come to Mumbai and create a production that would turn this spirit of the streets into an action that would endure. Jagannathan and Farber sought performers who were survivors of sexual violence, who were prepared to tell their personal stories. Edinburgh Fringe production company, Assembly Theatre, came on board as producers while the play was still being created. This extraordinary production was created in Delhi in a matter of weeks and premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world's largest arts festival, to universal acclaim, in August 2013.
NIRBHAYA at the Fringe
As well as receiving rave reviews, NIRBHYA won three prestigious awards: The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, The Scotsman's Fringe First Award, and the Herald Angel Award.
Audiences openly wept and sought the performers after each show to share their own stories of sexual violence, or to simply thank the cast for their courage in leading the way towards breaking the silence.
NIRBHAYA is now poised to take its message around the world and become a powerful agent for real social change. With the help of our Kickstarter backers, the NIRBHAYA tour will start early 2014 in the place where it is most relevant, where it all began: India.
WHAT WILL YOUR CONTRIBUTION HELP US DO?
We cannot bring NIRBHAYA's vital message to India without your donations
By raising the money via this Kickstarter campaign, we free the production from producers or sponsors who will expect profit or may try to water-down our message. The NIRBHAYA team is fully confident that once the first shows are reviewed that demand for the show will be overwhelming. But we need your help to provide the seed money for this tour.
WHAT IS THE COST?
The initial cost of mounting the tour is £80,000 ($108,000/€96,000). This money will finance 10 performances in 2 cities, Mumbai and Delhi. We have already raised £30,000 through donations. We need £50,000 to fund the first tour. Raising over £50,000 means more performances in additional cities for our current tour. Our goal is to include 5 additional performances in Bangalore and 5 in Kolkata. Each additional show costs about £5,000. Our ultimate goal is to take the show to many more cities in 2014 and 2015.
The initial sum will cover all our expenses, including the rehearsal process, sets, travel and accommodation for cast and crew, advanced publicity, and security (which must be provided due to the content of this work).
To ensure maximum impact, each performance will be accompanied by a post-show discussion, which we want to expand to include forums, support groups and awareness programmes. We intend to ensure we have a section of seats always set aside for students at no cost or at a highly subsidised rate.
Please note: Any excess funds raised will go towards future productions of NIRBHAYA in India in 2014 and 2015. Because there are so many moving pieces when it comes to planning a tour in India, there is a chance that by the time we have raised the funds, theatre spaces are no longer available. In that case, be assured the money will be used for an Indian tour in 2014. Whilst, we hope in time to be invited to perform and to receive subsidies thereby reducing our costs, it must be emphasized that revenue from theatre like this in India, in intimate spaces, is very low (ticket prices averaging £3). Box office revenue only covers a small portion of the overall costs.
THE JOURNEY AHEAD
BE PART OF THIS GREAT PROJECT
We need your support. We need to raise £50,000, but we would love to raise much more, so that we can make a real difference with NIRBHAYA. We’d love to tour many more cities and college campuses across India in the upcoming years. We’d like to harness the momentum and build tools with which we can affect real social change. NIRBHAYA is part of a growing movement of people refusing to be silent. We hope you can share our vision to do nothing less than CHANGE THE WORLD by ending the silence on sexual violence.
Our dream would be to raise £500,000 from 500,000 people each pledging just a £1 or €1, sending a clear message to end sexual violence. But if you really do believe in NIRBHAYA, then please do give more, so we can harness the power of theatre to create a FEARLESS world.
WHAT THE PRESS AND AUDIENCES HAVE SAID ABOUT NIRBHAYA
And here are just a select few of the hundreds of tweets we have received:
And some extracts from blogs and letters by audience members:
Check out these video reviews from the Edinburgh run:
Kickstarter video credit: Gabriella Sonabend
Risks and challenges
Nirbhaya is the result of a profound development process between the creative team and the performers themselves, whose individual experiences and perspectives are core to the production. The current company has committed to the next phase of presentation in India but should any individual be unavailable, the production can be re-shaped in response to additional performers’ testimonies and perceptions.
We are passionate about sharing this groundbreaking production with as many people as possible – this passion spurred us on to create the piece in Delhi in time to take it to Edinburgh this summer, making possible the ambition to present in India this December. The date is important because it marks a year since the death of Jyoti Singh Pandey, and a year since the public outrage which accompanied coverage of the attack and set the chain of events in motion leading to the play’s creation. Nirbhaya remains as vital a piece of theatre as when it was first performed this summer, and if we are unable to put everything in place for the proposed December dates, the tour will go ahead as early as possible in 2014.
The collaborative nature of touring theatre means that challenging situations will inevitably crop up, but we are a very experienced team and have the skills, knowledge and drive to overcome any obstacles and ensure that this unique piece of testimonial theatre is experienced by audiences in India, and where it is needed most.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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