Devendra Sharma

Fresno, CA

Devendra Sharma is a performer, writer, and director of Nautanki, Raaslila, Bhagat, and Rasiya, the traditional musical theatre genres of northern India. He was trained in the famous Swami-Khera Gharana by renowned folk guru Pundit Ram Dayal Sharma. He has given more than five hundred performances to date and directed many films illustrating Indian folk traditions. At present, he is an Assistant Professor of Communication at California State University, Fresno. Sharma’s artistic mission is to use the indigenous performing arts to bring critical attention to contemporary global issues and empower marginalized people. His current Nautanki piece examines the phenomenon of Indian men who come to America from India to study or work and have two romantic partners, one in India and another in America.


“Mission Suhani”
Nautanki, a traditional folk musical theater from rural north India, is marked by lively dancing, pulsating drumbeats, and full-throated singing. Mission Suhani follows a confident young Indian bride, and her Non-Resident Indian groom, who has taken her dowry and left her in India. Against familial and societal pressure, Suhani travels to the U.S. where she finds her husband, recovers the dowry…and more! Working with his father Pundit Ram Dayal Sharma, a prominent Nautanki master, Sharma crafts a brilliantly entertaining, thought-provoking and moving musical that examines women’s empowerment.

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After the first Work-in-Progress show, I worked with my Nautanki troupe on the suggestions given to us by the audience members and our friends at CounterPULSE, incorporating them into our second Work-in-Progress show. The changes have definitely made our piece more effective, and it now flows more smoothly. In addition, as a result of the […]

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One of the major challenges I had in preparing for Mission Suhani this year was finding new actors, as many of the previous actors from last year were not available. This situation is expected when you try to involve community members as actors in a participatory effort like Mission Suhani. Most of these community members […]

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I spent the last three months in Europe and India, traveling and performing Nautanki to diverse audiences. I also worked with my father on Nautanki Mission Suhani to expand the script and add new scenes for our performance at CounterPULSE this October. I first traveled to Paris, where I stayed at the Théâtre du Soleil […]

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Devendra Sharma is a Performing Diaspora Resident Artist at CountePULSE. See him at weekend 3 of Performing Diaspora, November 19-22. Buy tickets now! After coming back from India in late August, I have been working hard with my group on the rehearsals of “Mission Suhani.” As soon as I landed in America, I had to […]

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Hi friends! I spent last three months living in India, co-writing the new Nautanki performance script for the “Performing Diaspora” with my father– the renowned Nautanki artist, Pundit Ram Dayal Sharma, I loved my time in India. It was so much fun, and a learning experience, working with my father on this script that focuses […]

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Colonialism does strange things to a culture. Ignoring one’s own indigenous “ordinary” culture, and blindly imitating others’ “legitimate” culture is one of them. It takes years and a lot of efforts before a culture realizes its self-worth during the post-colonial journey. At present, urban culture in India and Indian diaspora around the world is undergoing […]

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Upcoming Event
October 24 @ 8:00 pm / Savage Evening

vîv OCT 24-25, FRI-SAT at 8PM   Join the women of vîv for a full-evening presenting work by Kathleen Hermesdorf & Albert Mathias, Bianca Cabrera, and more. vîv began in 2013 with 8 women determined to re-create the underlying conditions and working methods in dance. They are rethinking how to practice together, build community, and […]

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