Final Event Announced for UW–Madison Division of the Arts’ Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence, Sri Vamsi Matta

Sri Vamsi Matta promotional flyer, with URL text overlaid:

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of the Arts and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures (presenters) are excited to welcome Sri Vamsi Matta as the inaugural academic year-long Interdisciplinary

Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence, Sri Vamsi Matta, has planned and produced a number of events in Madison and beyond, culminating in his upcoming performance, “Can a Song Be a Revolution,” at the Play Circle Theater (800 Langdon St, Madison, WI) on Thursday, April 11th, 2024 from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. “Can a Song Be a Revolution,” focuses on Gaddar, a famous Indian poet, singer, performer, intellectual, and creative mind associated with people’s resistance movements in India and most importantly he is a revolutionary! But to many peoples’ movement he is a revolution, a cultural revolution. In the exercise of telling the story of this revolution, we came to ask a question, can a song be a revolution?

“I want my presence to be felt and interacted with through my performances, teaching, workshops and public interventions during my time in Madison,” says Vamsi. “Through my presence, I want to be able to engage with America’s imagination of performing arts and what constitutes aesthetics, and to find crossroads where our notions of the other intersect on questions of caste, race, sexuality, ethnicity or gender.”

Vamsi’s residency is presented in partnership with the Division of the Arts and the Department Asian Languages and Cultures, with Jamal Jones, Assistant Professor, as lead faculty and Zara Chowdhary, Lecturer in Hindi, as residency lead. Co-sponsors for the residency are the Department of History, Human Rights Program, Center for the Humanities, International Learning Community, Center for Research on Gender and Women, Center for South Asia, Department of Theatre and Drama, and the Center for Visual Cultures.

Sri Vamsi Matta headshot
Photo courtesy of the artist

About the Artist

Sri Vamsi Matta, (Vamsi, he/him), is a Bangalore-based theatre actor, writer, and director. His practice is influenced by his Dalit identity, experience, and social location. The histories of his family and community inform the questions, topics, and mediums that Vamsi engages with through his work. His most recent traveling solo show performance, Come Eat With Me, – an invitation to folks from all caste, faith and race locations – has received a tremendous response in the national and regional media across India. His play, Star in the Sky about the institutional murder of a Dalit PhD scholar in 2016, often seen as a moment of reckoning for Indian academia’s inherent caste biases, won second place at the prestigious Tata Literature Live! Sultan Padamsee Award For Playwriting Sultan Padamsee Playwriting Awards. While in Madison, Vamsi is excited to engage with UW–Madison’s own reckoning with historic inequities and contributing to its present campus culture and goals of fostering a greater sense of inclusion and belonging through the arts.

About the Presenters

The Division of the Arts’ Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program brings innovative, world-class artists to the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, providing students with extended learning experiences with a working artist, increasing diversity of teaching staff on campus and strengthening programmatic ties among individual departments, programs and other campus and community arts entities. Since 1999, the program has hosted 51 residencies involving 55 artists-in-residence and more than 140 guest artists from 20 different countries, engaging over 50 university units and more than 40 community organizations. All residencies center interdisciplinary arts, recognizing that interdisciplinarity can break down barriers and silos, advance intellectual artistic diversity and give opportunities to people who do not fit into the traditional modes of inquiry and practice (see the Division of the Arts’ guiding principle of The Arts for Everyone, Everywhere). The program often brings together artists, faculty, staff and students from various disciplines across the arts, sciences and humanities, sustaining the Division of the Arts’ mission to unify and catalyze the arts at UW–Madison.

Asian Languages and Cultures is home to nearly 20 faculty whose research and teaching specialties include the following: traditional medicine in India; the history of yoga; diversifying contemporary mindfulness practice with insights from Tibetan Buddhism; Hindi-Urdu poetry of protest, human rights in Thailand; Chinese ghost stories; traditional poetics and philology; sociolinguistics and discourse analysis of the Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian languages; analysis of classical Japanese tale fiction, early modern comedic narratives, manga, anime and Japanese counterculture.