Arpita is a Bangalore-based public historian. Aside from co-directing Staging Our Histories, she explores the intersection of performance and the past through her practice as a student of dance.
‘The Rani of Sirmur’ is a kathak piece Arpita began composing while in graduate school as a reaction to Gayatri Spivak’s essay of the same name. Still a work-in-progress, the performance considers personal and affective relationships to archives – particularly colonial ones – and the stories and selves which have been erased or cast into shadow by their walls, literal and figurative. ‘Rani’ also asks questions our ties to individual histories and collective pasts, as well as displacement and identity.
In 2015, Arpita had a chance to perform ‘The Rani of Sirmur’ for the second time as part of the keynote performance at the ‘New Directions in Active History’ Conference. This will be the third iteration of the piece, and the first time it is presented in India. She is grateful to the Antara Collective and Kala Sahita for their help and support in working through the piece.