Alumni Stories

Anna Procter’s (C'10) capstone project began taking shape fall of her senior year on an abroad program in India. There, she learned about the Dalits, also known as “untouchables,” who are of such low social standing that they’re outside the caste system and have no social voice. “That idea of voicelessness just grabbed me,” Procter says.

During the abroad, Procter and fellow student Tabea Mangelsdorf (C'10) toured Udaipur and a nearby village, collecting the Dalits’ stories. As a theatre major, Procter was especially interested in the ways Dalits used the arts to acquire a voice. To her surprise, however, she found no evidence that they did, which made her wonder whether she could “give voice to these people.” The answer was a dramatic yes!

As a first step, Procter created monologues and Mangelsdorf wrote songs based on their interviews with the Dalits. Back on campus, Procter worked with the Theatre and Dance Department to turn her scenes into a full-length show titled Untouchable Voices. In it, Procter glides between characters—men, women, old, young, wealthy, poor, college professors, and the uneducated—in a series of one person scenes interspersed with Mangelsdorf’s performances of her songs.

The show was so successful that the women were invited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival. Instead, they focused their efforts in the U.S., taking their show on the road—including performing at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Regional Festival—to raise funds for the children in the villages they visited. Their CD (pictured above), Untouchable Voices, is available on Amazon.