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The Why-Why Girl

A delightful story of a young tribal girl, Moyna, who is curious about everything and will never stop asking the question 'WHY?' Written by one of India's celebrated writers, Mahasweta Devi, we see how education for children, especially girls in underserved communities can make such a positive impact.


This performance is based on the book The Why Why Girl by Mahasweta Devi, illustrated by Kanyika Kini, and published by Tulika. It has been adapted with original music and illustration for The Red Curtain Project.


Thresh and The Red Curtain Projec Thresh and the Red Curtain Project is proud to partner with Tulika, an independent, multilingual publisher of children's books that pioneered a fresh wave in Indian publishing when it was founded in 1996 (winner of the 2019 London Book Fair Award for Excellence in Literary Translation Initiative).

The Importance of The Why-Why Girl

RCP's Artistic Director, Preeti Vasudevan, explains the importance of this story:

The Storyteller's Toolkit

The techniques an Indian classical dancer uses to create an emotional mood are grouped under the term "saatvika abhinaya" (SAAT-vika ab-in-EYE-a). In particular, the face is a key tool for communicating emotion—Indian dancers train for years to perfect these expressions!

Watch how Preeti manipulates different aspects of facial expression (eyes, lips, eyebrows) to create the emotional effect.

(Note: These videos do not have voiceover/subtitles.)

Storyteller's toolkit (TWWG)

Every culture uses its hand gestures for expression: in bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance) these gestures are classified in minute detail. Each gesture has specific meanings and applications. Each video includes the name of different facial expressions, or "saatvika abhinaya," and hand gestures, or "mudras" in Sanskrit (the classical language of India) along with examples and applications.

Commentary & Analysis

In the video below, Preeti explains how she uses the classical gestural vocabulary of Indian dance to tell Moyna's story.

C & A (TWWG)

The Red Curtain Drawing Challenge

We challenge you to create a drawing inspired by Moyna and The Why-Why Girl. What are you curious about? What do you want to be when you grow up? Imagine what your dream life would be like and draw it!


Send us your drawings at and you'll see them here on the site.

Activities (WWG)

The Sabar tribe: pictures & history

Learn about the Sabar people, an ethnic group from the Odisha and West Bengal regions of Northern India:

Meet Our Global Collaborators

Kamala Sankaram
Shreya Mehta

Kamala Sankaram, Composer
New York, New York

"I'm a composer and teacher who likes to write music for opera and theater. My dad is from Andhra Pradesh in Southern India, so I'm always looking for ways to combine Indian and European classical music. I've been thrilled to write two children's operas that do this: The Jungle Book, written for the Glimmerglass Festival, and Monkey and Francine in the City Tigers, written for Houston Grand Opera. I also have a band called Bombay Rickey. We love it when people come to our shows and dance, so I hope we'll see you at one soon."

Shreya Mehta, Illustrator
New York, New York

Shreya Mehta is an award-winning visual artist who confronts questions of identity and spirituality in her vibrant and eclectic practice. Shreya was born in India and raised in Antwerp, Belgium, where she attended the Royal Academy of Art as its first woman of Indian origin. Mehta’s work has a global presence and has been exhibited at galleries and fairs in New York, Dubai, and Mumbai. See more of Shreya's work at her website

Collaborators (WWG)
FA Learn Interactive.png

Learn Interactive partnered with RCP on The Why-Why Girl. They deliver industry-leading manager development programs focused on key transitions in any individual's career.

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