The Journey Behind Pink Sari Revolution

Posted on 6 October 2017

The project to bring our adaptation of Pink Sari Revolution to the stage, has been in development for nearly two years. Given the significance of the story, the impact these events have on women’s lives and how the issues raised in the piece are truly international, not just something that happens far away, it felt incredibly important to find out the real challenges facing woman not only in India but closer to home in our own cities and communities.

Our journey begins with Sampat Pal, who created one of the world’s greatest feminist movements, the Gulabi Gang. Instantly recognisable in their blazing Pink Saris with over 400,000 members, the gang originated in rural India and make a stand for human rights where many others fail to act.

Sampat Pal was married at twelve, essentially illiterate, but today she leads an army fighting for women’s rights. Internationally-renowned journalist Amana Fontanella-Khan met with Sampat and other members of the gang and documented some of those meetings, which formed the basis of her best-selling book – Pink Sari Revolution, a tale of women and power in the Badlands of India.

As part of Art Council England’s Reimagine India, Curve was awarded funding to create a new piece of work for UK/India 2017, a year-long celebration to mark India’s 70 years of independence and showcase British and Indian creativity and collaboration between arts and cultural organisations.

Originally inspired by the book, Curve Associate Director Suba Das and a team of Indian and British
Asian artists, including award-winning playwright Purva Naresh, travelled to rural India to meet with
Sampat to learn more about the person, the politics and what drives her to say ‘no more’ to violence against women. Working both with communities here in England and drawing on the personal experiences of women in India, Purva began writing this piece. What followed was an intensive period of development, culminating in a workshop at the National Theatre which brought together a team of actors led by director Suba Das and writer Purva Naresh, to bring the stories of these remarkable women to life.

Fast-forward three months and everyone involved in the project is incredibly proud to present the world premiere of Pink Sari Revolution, which has now opened at Curve, before heading here, to Belgrade Theatre Coventry, then Northern Stage and West Yorkshire Playhouse. We’re all enormously grateful to Arts Council England, English Touring Theatre and British Council for their generous support, which has enabled these performances.

We hope that this powerful true story about how even one person can make a difference may empower you to try and make that difference as well.