Zameen (Land) a new play developed by Kali Theatre explores the devastating effects that global agribusiness can have on nature and on human lives.
In the cotton fields of the Punjab a farmer waits anxiously for the
harvest, pinning his hopes for prosperity on genetically modified (GM) seeds and pesticides. When disaster occurs and the crops begin to fail, he falls deeper into debt to the local money-lender. Full of frustrated ambition his son turns to drink and dreams of escape while his daughter finds herself torn between staying in poverty on the land she loves or following the man she loves in moving to the West.
Playwright Satinder Kaur Chohan writes:
‘After developing Zameen in the UK over the past 2 years, I finally journeyed to the real-life setting of my play in May, the cotton belt of Sangrur, Moga and Bathinda in the Malwa region of Punjab, India ... Everyone I spoke to, including beleaguered cotton farmers and their families, desperately wanted to escape the crushing cycle of spiralling agricultural costs, poverty and debt that has already driven thousands of Indian farmers to suicide.
Since the early 1990s, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab have become the killing fields of a rampant globalisation. In haggard Mother India's haste for a global superpower makeover, an economics of genocide courts incoming multinationals, agro-chemical companies and unfair global trade laws that are destroying the small-scale farmer, land and environment. It's a story of struggle unfolding in other quiet corners of Asia, Africa and South America, but at an inexorable pace.
Zameen seeks to capture an insular but rapidly changing world, where winds of globalisation are sweeping in. The characters and stories of Zameen might seem like a world away but really, they're much closer than we think. From the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to the lifestyle and consumer choices we make, to the values we choose to live by, their fate and destinies are tied to our own'.
Satinder Kaur Chohan is of Punjabi origin and has worked as a researcher for television documentaries. This is her first dramatic work.
Zameen was directed by Janet Steel.
Zameen toured April - June, 2008:
Contact Theatre, Manchester
Theatre Royal, The Drum, Plymouth
Arts Theatre, London
Birmingham Rep, The Door, Birmingham
Nuffield Theatre, Southampton
West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Courtyard, Leeds
Established in the 1990s, Kali Theatre supports new writing by Asian women.
production photos by Robert Day; top image by Santinder Chohan