Clothes (2000)

This is a video documentation of ‘Clothes,’ a play by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, which discusses complex topics such as racism, multi-cultural relationships, economic disparity, and arranged marriage, from an Indian-American perspective. The main character, Sumita, leaves India for the United States to marry a man she has never met before, and she expresses her anxieties about being exiled from her family. The struggles to adapt to U.S. American culture are symbolically transferred to clothes’ shapes and colors, since Sumita has to trade in her native ‘sari’ for t-shirts and jeans. When Sumita’s husband dies, she is left to choose the life of an independent woman in the United States or return to her in-laws in India. Now a ‘widow in a white sari,’ Sumita vows to stay in the United States despite not knowing how she will survive. Through dance and music that intertwines delicate movements with a subtle but strong body, storytelling transmits the complexity of a female identity that moves between tradition and modernity. The characters’ gestures, and the music, dance, and percussion through the play, reveal a story that is part of a broader history of cultural encounters.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author, poet, activist and teacher. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary U.S. America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multi-cultural world. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, and her work has appeared in over a hundred magazines and anthologies. Several of her novels and stories have been made into films and plays. She has won an American Book Award and a Light of India award. Divakaruni teaches Creative Writing at the University of Houston and writes for both adults and children.


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Additional Info

  • Title: Clothes
  • Holdings: photo gallery, video (HIDVL)
  • Duration: 00:58:57
  • Language: English
  • Date: 3 Feb 2000
  • Location: Mount Holyoke College Rooke Theatre in South Hadley, Massachusetts
  • Type-Format: play, performance
  • Cast: Purva Bedi, performer; Aparna Sindhoor, performer; Saavitri Ramanand, musician; Ram Nath, musician; David Nelson, musician.
  • Credits: Mount Holyoke College and New WORLD Theater, producer; Roberta Uno, director; Chitra Divakaruni, playwright; Harley Erdman and Roberta Uno, dramaturgs; Leandro Soto, set designer; John T. Howard, lighting designer; Kevin Brainerd, costume designer; Emily Stork, Aparna Sindhoor, choreographer; Sukanya Prabhakar, composer; Malea Jochim, stage manager; Emma Donoghue, assistant state manager; Suzanne Hayden, technical director.

Image Gallery

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