Theatre for environment
It is no longer restricted within the four walls of a school compound. As students of all age groups become more and more passionate about ‘environment’, they are finding newer and more innovative means of reaching out to a larger audience with their message. The neighbourhood, the city centre, the streets – the world, quite literally, has become their stage.
No wonder, therefore, theatre – more specifically street theatre – is emerging as the most popular mode of interaction between school Eco clubs and the people today. Can there be a better way of making one’s voice heard, and then ensuring that the audience keeps on listening? After all, it has been tried and tested by men and women for centuries. Gobar Times talked to some teachers, students and professionals to find out how effectively (and extensively) this concept of ‘theatre for environment’ is being used by them.
Almost every school has been involved in performing plays on environment. Pulkit Sinha from Greenfields School, Dilshaad Garden, New Delhi told us that their students have been performing plays on various key issues like air pollution. The story isn’t different for most schools across India.
Both teachers and students pitch in to create the play. They write scripts and dialogues and then direct it. Barnali Dutta of Ahlcon International School, Delhi, says teachers, often with no previous experience, write and direct a street drama with the ease of an expert.
Puppetry for paryavaran
Vibha Mishra of Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Sagarpur, New Delhi has been using puppetry to create environmental awareness among children. The peppy puppets get the message across to children in a lighter vein. The school uses finger puppets as they are easier to handle. One group of children operate the puppets, while another works on the sound effects.
Although the performances have been limited within the campus till now, Vibha has plans to reach out to the larger community. Her team is planning a performance at the Green Schools Award ceremony in Delhi on 17 December 2007. For more information log on to www.cseindia.org
Pravah, a Delhi based non-profit organisation, gave away the Citizenship Learning and Action Programme (CLAP) Awards to school children engaged in activities promoting social change. The winners included many who focussed on key environmental concerns.
Fighting Global Warming
Shivan Kaul and Kamaal Dhillon, from St. John’s High School, Chandigarh, made the mark with their initiatives to counter global warming. They have formed a students group in the school, which promotes cycling and have been able to convince students to opt for cycling rather than using cars and other vehicles, which run on fossil fuels and generate carbon dioxide. They organised a cycling drive and signature campaign to enlist support from the school community.
Kalyani Pal of St. Paul’s School, New Delhi, was acknowledged for her campaign promoting the use of energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), not only at home but also in school.
Campaign for natural colours
Makarand Maigur from Maharashtra was awarded for his campaign on the use of natural colours on idols. He along with his father initiated the campaign by holding an exhibition of Ganesha idols decorated with natural colours. The young environmentalists were awarded Rs 5000 each to help their projects. All of them are now enthused to go back and get on with their projects. For more information contact Gaurav Gogoi at: firstname.lastname@example.org Are you doing something similar in your neighbourhood or school? Then do write in to Gobar Times with your project details. The best ones would get published.
Taking to the streets
But while most schools perform the plays to a school audience on special occasions and recess breaks, there are a few which have crossed the boundaries and reached ‘streets’ in real life. Aren’t they performing street plays after all? As we had mentioned in some of the previous issues of Gobar Times, a school’s involvement in community action gives ample space for performing street plays (see Green Schools Pages, pg 72-73, Gobar Times June 2007). For many of the
community programmes, aimed at awareness on topics like hygiene, sanitation and pollution, street plays become an ideal choice.
Anubhav, a student of Sanskriti School, told us that it is fun doing street plays as one does not know the audience and what their reaction is going to be. He did a play on littering at Dilli Haat a few years back and still cherishes the experience. The drama was conceptualised during a workshop that was conducted in the school. Then it was actually staged in a public arena, by the students themselves.
Being Street smart
Street theatre skills are a little different from conventional theatre techniques. As the actors do not use a mike,their voice has to be clear and strident. Also, the players use basic makeshift props, and have to speak in a language that can be understood by every man on the street. Then unlike in stage theatres, where characters have to face the audience, in the street form, there are people all around. So the the actors have to move 360 degrees to face the audience.
Many schools are now taking help of professionals to hone skills. Amit Sinha, an NGO activist and a theatre person, has helped several schools and youth groups to create and stage street plays. Based in Delhi, he may be contacted at 9818705715. NGO activists are the best people to get in touch with, as they use street theatre to spread awareness about social causes.
No curtains, please!
As more and more people take to theatre, the question we need to ask ourselves is – can drama be translated to real life action? Is performance on the streets ensuring cleaner streets and more environmentally aware citizens? Think about it. And meanwhile… enjoy play-acting.