Faces Behind the Masks: Chau Production on Recognition of Artists

Faces Behind the Masks: Chau Production on Recognition of Artists

August 31st, 2020

New Chau production on recognition of Chau dancers who remain unknow behind masks.

Chau dancers have always faced the problem of recognition and attribution. We enjoy the Chau performances but seldom acknowledge the person, the performer behind the elaborate mask who gives life to the character he plays. Moreover, Chau dance is predominantly practiced by the male members of the community and women have only very recently started taking part in Chau performances that too after overcoming several social hurdles.

In order to raise awareness on these two issues a new Chau dance production titled “Mukosh Khola Mukh” or Faces behind the Masks was developed with the guidance of theatre expert Sidhartha Chakraborty. The production was developed through a workshop comprising thirteen Chau artists and Jhumur singers. The workshop involved exercise, music and song practice, production objective sharing, production scene development. The production was based on the story-line of how the artist behind the Chau mask needs to be recognized. How women faced criticism from the patriarchal society and how they went on to pursue their dreams of dancing Chau withstanding the societal pressure has been beautifully captured by the production.

The production ends with the artists behind the masks being applauded by the audience. This shows the importance of recognition of artists behind the masks. Jhumur songs have been beautifully used in this Chau production.

This research project, Heritage Sensitive Intellectual Property and Marketing strategies: India (HIPAMS - INDIA), is funded by the British Academy's Sustainable Development Programme, supported under the UK Government's Global Challenges Research Fund 2018-2021.