Alka Sharma (Mandi Theater) and Jill Halpern Collaboration

Dastangoi: an ancient Urdu oral storytelling art form

We are excited to present the rare and unique traditional storytelling form of Dastangoi! Specially for our festival, we will have a first-time collaboration between Alka R Sharma of Mandi Theatre Group of Chicago and Ann Arbor storyteller Jill Halpern, who will tell the story in both Hindi and English.

Dastangoi is an ancient Urdu oral storytelling art form. This art of storytelling, developed in the 7th century CE. The most popular dastan that has ever been orally told is Dastan-e-Amir Hamza.

About the story, BITCH: In many parts of the World, there are a number of popular beliefs and superstitions related to weddings, which have been passed on from one generation to another. In order to ward off the evil eye from their family, what happens to that little girl? This is the story about a four year old girl’s misfortune. Here, we reflect on the interesting history of celebrations, while acknowledging that our ancestors had some strange beliefs. Prepare to be surprised!

Alka Sharma is the Founder and Director of Mandi Theatre and Amprapali Nritya – Kala Kendra, two renowned groups in the field of Arts and  culture in Chicago. An actor,dancer, playwright, poet, painter, and a freelance writer, Alka has been actively involved in many community service events such as Women’s Day, Children’s  Day, etc. She is also the Channel Head for Radio HINDI.

In 2017, Alka Introduced Hindi Theatre Festival, bringing together other theatre groups from around USA. Since 2016, she has also been holding  Children’s Day Celebrations through performances & art contests Among the many honors that she has received are recognition from the Federation of Indian Associations, Village of Streamwood, UP Association of Chicagoland.  Metropolitan Asian Family Services (MAFS), etc. At the 3rd International Hindi Conference in NY, she was recognized for “Excellent contribution in the field of theatre” by Dr. Gabriela Nick Ilieva of New York University. Alka’s dance group was the first  prize winner at the 2017 India Fest, Naperville in the folk dance contest.

Jill Halpern is a storyteller, poet, tree-and-people hugger, teacher, seeker, activist, and work-in-progress who writes and tells to help love the world into being.  She enjoys sharing stories about relationships, nature, community, self-discovery, social justice ad equality kids, zen, and peace.