Thumbprint is inspired by the extraordinary transformation of Mukhtar Mai, a young woman whose world was shattered by an act of brutality that could have destroyed her. Instead, she discovers a weapon—her voice—and against all odds, to the astonishment of her country and herself, she seeks justice and finds it. “The worst thing in my life is also the best,” she says. “It has given my life meaning.”
Her journey resonates beyond borders in its implicit belief that even in the darkest times, one person, one voice, through a single act of courage, can change life for thousands.
The story is told through a dynamic score by Kamala Sankaram, filled with Hindustani and European opera influences, and a libretto by Susan Yankowitz, originating from a series of interviews with Mai.
The world premiere of Thumbprint was commissioned, developed and produced by Beth Morrison Projects and HERE. Thumbprint began as a song-cycle commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects for the 2009 21c Liederabend at Galapagos Art Space, was further developed for the 2011 iteration at The Kitchen.
Thumbprint received funding from the MAP Fund, generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Augustine Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Asian Women’s Giving Circle; the Poetry in Review Foundation; and the Anna Sosenko Foundation. Residency support was provided by Hermitage, MacDowell Colony and Watermill Center.
“A vibrant call for women’s rights… You don’t leave the theater unimpressed or unmoved."
"Sankaram’s tuneful score and standout performance are well worth a listen.”
“A streamlined and powerful music drama, affecting exactly because it is, mostly, a direct and focussed narrative that trusts the audience to see, hear and understand exactly what is going on and what it all means…”
“Ms. Sankaram’s music, inflected with the rhythms and melismas of Indian ragas, has a driving percussive energy and a distinctive sound…the action shifted seamlessly from realistic action to stylized choreography, taking the story into the realm of myth.”
“To those who complain that opera is an elitist indulgence served up to snobs in dinner jackets, New York’s latest world premiere may come as something of a shock… The score is an alluring blend of South Asian and Western music, and the production starkly innovative.”
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