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Global Development Institute

Pot Gan performance

The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka

This project uses indigenous performance theatre to increase public engagement and awareness of the everyday realities of slum dwellers living with climate change in Dhaka.

As part of her research on urban climate change resilience, Dr Joanne Jordan spent months in the slums of Dhaka talking to over 600 people in their homes, work places, local teashops and on street corners to understand how climate change is linked to or creating problems in their ‘everyday’ lives and how they are trying to find solutions to those problems.

With the research complete, she teamed up with the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Dhaka to explore the findings through a ‘Pot Gan’, a traditional folk medium that combines melody, drama, pictures and dancing. The Pot Gan is not a static piece of theatre; it is an interactive event that challenges the audience to actively engage with the personal experiences of slum dwellers affected by climate change.

Performances of ‘The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka’ have been seen by over 600 people in Dhaka, including: slum dwellers, policy makers, practitioners, academics, and the general public. Performances have taken place at:

  • The 10th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change, Independent University Bangladesh, Dhaka (25 April 2016)
  • British Council Bangladesh, Dhaka (28 April 2016)
  • Within the slum that provided the insights for the research in Dhaka (29 April 2016)

The panel were impressed by the strength of personal commitment animating the project and the powerful personal responses encouraged in the participants through the use of the Pot Gan theatrical medium

NCCPE Judges’ panel comment / 2016

To bring the stories from the Dhaka slum dwellers to an even larger international audience, the Pot Gan performances were filmed to produce a documentary exploring Dr Joanne Jordan’s findings on the everyday realities of climate change. The documentary ‘The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka’ was produced and directed by Green Ink, a Dhaka based new media studio specialising in documentaries. 

Key achievements

  • Project was a 2016 finalist in a national public engagement competition run by the National Co-coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (Out of over 180 applications) 
  • Over 100, 000 people have viewed the project documentary online since it was released in September 2016
  • Three live Pot Gan performances in Dhaka were attended by over 600 people in Dhaka in April 2016, including: slum dwellers; policy makers; practitioners; academics; and the general public
  • In a survey of the varied audiences who saw the live Pot Gan performance, 100% who responded agreed that performances like the Pot Gan are a useful way to build awareness on climate change. More than 80% said they had learned something new about climate change as a result of viewing the Pot Gan
  • Accompanied by high-profile events, such as a public event on ‘The Lived Experience of Climate Change’ at Rich Mix London, attended by 200 people ( 2 February 2017) and the premiere of the project documentary as part of Manchester Museum’s Climate Control exhibition (24 August 2016), attended by a capacity audience of 100 people.
  • The Pot Gan was developed as part of a Master’s course unit on ‘Theatre for Development’ at the University of Dhaka, helping Bangladeshi students learn about crucial global issues that have a local impact
  • The project materials have been used as teaching resources at the University of Manchester
  • Established new partnerships with organisations, including: University of Dhaka; Brick Lane Circle; Theatre of Debate; Tie-Dye Drama; Regent’s High School; Rich Mix; and the British Council


Play booklet with script

Photo gallery

Blog/Newspaper articles

Newspaper Article in Dhaka Tribune

Blog on the Global Development Institute blog


Social Media

Key people

This work is being led by Dr Joanne Jordan. It is funded by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) with an Environment and Sustainability Research Grant (Grant ESRG 6/15), The University of Manchester Faculty of Humanities Strategic Investment Research Fund, The University of Manchester School of Environment, Education and Development Research and Impact Stimulation Fund and The University of Manchester Eco-voucher award.