The acronym CESCI stands for Centre for Experiencing Socio-Cultural lnteraction. The centre is situated near Madurai, in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India.
CESCI was founded in 1993 by Swiss women, Maja Koene together with Rajagopal P V., a well known Gandhian activist and the initiator of the social reform movement Ekta Parishad.
CESCI as the name suggests is a forum for facilitating socio-cultural exchange between the north and south. It hosts training for the activists from social organisations and provides an ideal environment in which they can take time to reflect and to recover from the mental and physical demands of their work at the grassroots.
CESCI is a direct form of solidarity. The movement Ekta Parishad takes action since three decades on rights of the landless, women and the adivasi communities. A great part of Ekta Parishad’s success is owing to the persistent efforts of men and women following the Gandhian philosophy with the will for social change to the betterment for the marginalized. More than 1000 activists work for awareness building, social rights and self help groups. Most of them stem from the same segment of the population they render their service to. Hence, they are familiar with their problems and issues and are able to find suitable solutions.
Theatre workshops and Festivals
CESCI has organized many theatre festivals and workshops since 1997, hosting artists across the country and internationally. Different issues relevant to the lives of ordinary people such as drought, alcoholism or domestic violence have been addressed for social change. Previous theatre festivals had titles like “Artists and Activists in Search against Poverty and Violence”, “Children and Theatre towards a New World”, “Art and People in Search of a Common Cause”, “Theatre for a Just World”, “Women and Society”, “Tribal Theatre for Cultural Solidarity”, “Theatre for Nonviolence and Peace” etc. With art as a tool, this is a serious effort to involve people associated with theatre to use their skills to address the problems of the deprived section of society. Theatre is a metaphor for society and an effective instrument to create a just world by promoting a system of good governance. Artists and activists, trained in CESCI theatre festivals and workshops, have gone back to their own states and villages with the commitment to carry forward the agenda.