Tag Archives: jlf2017

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Expressive Arts in the Pink City

Our tryst with Expressive Arts over the last 10 years has unraveled some amazing experiences. Amongst our varied ventures, our sessions at the Jaipur Literature Festival continue to remind us about the change and impact Expressive Arts can create, even in a short span of time.

This year, as JLF celebrates a decade of its existence, our long standing association with The Festival put us in Jayshree Periwal High School with 54 students from various social spheres. What started off as a theatre and arts workshop of January 9, 2017, became a special program by the end of January 23. There were a few, notably novel processes this time: Until now, our group comprised students from 5 privileged Private Schools from Jaipur and 5 NGO participants from rural parts of Rajasthan. But, for the first ever time, we invited participants from Madhya Pradesh as we looked to expand the scope of our Outreach Program at The Festival.  Secondly, in order to break the polarity and binary created by Private Schools from Jaipur and NGO’s across Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, we partnered with the ICICI Foundation to put us in touch with 2 government schools in the city. This made possible for participants to explore a diversity of experiences which was an enriching experience for us as well.

The workshops spanned across a period of 8 days, where a focus was laid on basic tools of theatre and creative writing along with spaces to discuss our theme for this year, ‘Freedom to Dream’. It was tied in to The Festival’s theme this year which celebrated ‘70 years of India’s Independence’. Years of progress and development has left us with unresolved issues that we struggle with, in our current times. An effort was made, not only to classify these issues but also discuss them with our participants through the course of the workshops. The results were eye opening.

Hesitant at first and slightly confused, our participants, albeit slowly focussed on their lives to discover social and cultural norms around them that restrict their choices, ambitions, aspirations and their ‘Freedom to Dream’. More importantly however, they spoke about the need for collective strength and unity that is required to break these barriers. Within this, our participants envisaged a country, a nation that allows everyone an equal chance to dream, express themselves and an equal opportunity for success.

What started off as an exercise in self exploration turned into a larger vision that more than answering the questions we posed, left us with more unanswered questions about circumstances that people live with. This also meant that lots of myths and stereotypes were broken, ideas were exchanged and challenges were recognised. Our work, which aims specifically at bridging the gap between privileged and marginalised, was effective in breaking the perceived rural-urban divide that stemmed in the beginning of the workshops. We also discovered the need to pertinently highlight other factors such as caste and gender when we discuss something as precarious as ‘Freedom to Dream’.

An integral part of our Outreach Program is the display of an interactive performance that develops through the workshops. It binds stories with personal narratives of our participants to bring relevant ideas that have emerged in the days preceding the performances. For us, performing is never an end goal but a process within itself. Not only does this give a chance to our participants to explore themselves, it also gives a chance to audience members to raise their concerns. The sharing has been and always will be mutual. After all, the audience too, are school students and community members who belong to the age group our participants come from. Many of our participants told us how the workshops and performances were a cathartic experience, and the fact that it helped so many others open up was magical for them.

Our performance ‘Freedom to Dream: Sapnon Ki Udaan’ has reached out to more than 3000 vibrant minds in Jaipur. Travelling from from schools to communities and making its way to the festival grounds; it helped create a space that is inclusive and accepting.

We would like to thank Teamwork Arts for giving us this opportunity and Zee Jaipur Literature Festival 2017 for providing us with a chance to connect with young minds across the country. A special mention goes out to Pratham Books and ICICI Foundation for helping us co-create and expand this platform.

A Report on The Outreach Program will be ready for public perusal soon. We will be putting up a link on the website and our social media page for anyone interested in knowing about this more.

Thank you for always believing in us and being with us! Watch out this space for more.

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Freedom to Dream: Yuva Ekta Outreach @ JLF2017

Today, as we stepped on stage at Jayshree Periwal High School, it was amazing to see this group of 54 young adults from diverse areas like Kumbalgarh, Mount Abu, Bikaner, Janwaar and Jaipur come together as one unit, united by dreams and aspirations.

This year, the JLF Outreach Program has been centred around 70 years of India’s Independence with its theme, ‘Freedom to Dream’. It all started on January 10, when these young students from various socio-economic backgrounds came together, not knowing what to expect from this process. What began was a full scale roller coaster ride with physical and emotional ups and downs, demonstrating the true strength of expressive arts as a medium of empowerment.

Each and every performer today spoke their heart out, making this performance ever more interactive. The scenes depicted were culled from real life stories of our participants, reflecting those of our audiences as well. The connect was instant, breaking barriers and inhibitions as they stepped on a stage for the first time ever. This was the result of 7 days of intensive workshopping and encouragement for many to come out of their shells and take centre stage.

Our workshops started with basic theatre warm up exercises that helped everyone break the initial tension. We shared our intent and each day was a step forward. Through activities like the mirror exercise, group triangles and guided meditation, we managed to seep into deeper layers that were necessary for the full exploration of this theme. Each day ended with different groups performing on key issues discussed during the day. None of the groups formed were ever the same, allowing participants to mingle with each other, understand and acknowledge individual differences.

Through the last 8 days we have opened avenues, expanding the canvas of one’s dreams. While some presented scenarios where subject and career options defined one’s aspirations, we also had those who want to break caste and gender based barriers that prohibit one’s mobility. Each of these components equally represent a nation that has a long way forward on the route to inclusive development. What we have also discovered in these last 8 days, is the journey our nation has taken so far. No matter where we come from, we have unraveled innumerable possibilities to influence change collectively. That’s the strength that the Indian diversity inhabits.

All these threads come together in our play titled ‘Freedom to Dream’. Our performances have started today, January 18, 2017 in Jayshree Periwal High School and Jayshree Periwal International School. Over the next 5 days we will be reaching to 8 more schools and a community in Jaipur. We are also very excited to perform on the Festival Grounds on Sunday, January 22, 2017.

We aim to continue in this direction, and in the process look forward to facilitating many such interactions where young, vibrant minds get a chance to speak out their minds and express themselves.