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Prague Fringe 2024

Unerase Poetry: Stories from India

Helly Shah, Taranjit Kaur and Simar Singh

Genre: Spoken Word, Storytelling

Venue: Malostranská Beseda


Low Down

Playing their first Fringe, India’s popular spoken word collective, Unerase Poetry premieres stories of love, connection, and breaking free from patriarchal expectations. 

Written & performed by Helly Shah, Taranjit Kaur and Simar Singh at the Malostranská Beseda. 



A lone, spotlit mic stands centre stage. Upstage left sits a bar stool. Colourful lights wash the raised concert stage at the Malostranská Beseda. An invisible emcee from the wings introduces our Unerase poets: Taranjit Kaur, Simar Singh and Helly Shah, storytellers hailing from a land of a billion people. There is an immediate sense of welcome in the space. 

As each poet takes the stage for their set, I’m taken by their individual stories and moved by the spirit in which they speak about their country, culture, and families.  I’ve always loved learning about India and while sitting in the audience, I could feel I was in shared company.  I find myself leaning forward in my chair to listen closer. 

Through plainly and poignantly picked words, Taranjit, first up and draped in a traditional sari, speaks out against colourism and what it means to live in her brown skin.  She stands poised and undeniably present and speaks about the expectations on Indian women to juggle family and career.  She’s a traveller, a theatremaker, and a mother, and her voice alone transports you to her familial region of the world. 

Simar’s comic confidence is apparent the instant he steps into the spotlight. He’s a self-described single Prague-based expat, living his best life outside his home country. He’s a charismatic performer, and his poetry is brimming with an energetic rhythm, the closest to slam poetry yet. Yet, it’s his vulnerability when comparing his father to the patriarchal limitations set upon us all that is note-worthy. 

And then there’s Helly, the 25-year-old theatrical standout who takes us down a rabbit hole of Tinder dating in opposition to her parent’s wishes. She’s a joyful, fully embodied communicator who emotes openness and love for the global community while holding out for her own. 

Although I could not identify a common thread with the group’s poetic styling, the connective tissue between the three is clear: a thoughtful celebration of hope for all people and progress.  Sharing moments from India that moulded their unique identities, connects them by more than country, but by their dreams.  

Instrumental pre-recorded music set the emotional tone in the room and shaped the dramatic arcs of their time on stage, but I questioned if it took away from the stories and tellers themselves. Alternatively, I wondered if other production elements could be incorporated to amplify their descriptions. It is, however, ultimately left to the performers to draw the audience in, which they did with great grace and power. 

Overall, I feel “Unerase Poetry: Stories from India” is a great show, a beautiful hour to disconnect from the noise and just listen. This fresh Fringe show is a reminder that the world is wide, people are precious, and words are transformative.