Theatre, an expression, an art form that has stirred revolutions, a confidence builder, it is an enabler of sorts for those who otherwise are quiet and introvert.
I always knew the power of this art form but when I wrote a play on Fake News for children of a Municipal school in Dharavi, Mumbai it was about empowering them. It was a seven-day workshop, on day one we had a general discussion and then I told them the story. On day two I made them draw in class and then they had to do a show and tell. This helped me gauge their confidence levels, expression, diction, and voice. Then I shared with them our play’s script with dialogues and asked them to come prepared with the character they want to be in the play for the auditions. Day-3 we had a super audition session and while some got the characters they wanted to perform for some I choose the roles.
I carry a dholak and a dhaapli to my theatre workshops. A 12-year-old who did not want to act came to me and said “Can I play this” without a word I gave the dholak to him he played it like a drum and we made him the music man of the play. It was a batch of 25 students, we had about 18 characters to be played, so with one drummer, we made the rest of the singing band, which doubled up as crowd for various scenes. The next 4 days were intense practice, but due to family conditions and other such issues every day we would have one or the other character missing.
After all the stumbling blocks, the final day was something that I did not expect. The play was the grand finale of the event where children were showcasing all the activities done during the summer vacations. The children performed with such a lot of ‘Josh’ that there were rounds of applause in between the play too. It was praised by the School Principal, teachers and parents. This experience came to an end with a lot of selfies.