Tag Archives: outreach

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The Banyan at 1AQ

The Yuva Ekta Foundation was at 1AQ on November 18, 2016 to showcase what has become a special performance for everyone involved. The space provided a perfect setting to perform ‘Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein’ quite literally ‘In the Shade of the Banyan’. The lofty Banyan Tree in the middle of the courtyard with its generous canopy of roots and branches, left us all, actors and audience, mesmerised.

Attended by approximately 200 people, the audience for this play included individuals from civil society who are actively engaged in the sphere of ‘Juvenile Justice’. The feedback was encouraging and ever so special coming from members directly associated with the cause. The intent of this gathering was to bring like-minded individuals together under one forum and open out fresh avenues for discussion and deliberation on the issue.

Our use of Expressive Arts as a means to create awareness has expanded exponentially. Through the use of Theatre and the Arts, our engagement with concerns surrounding ‘Youth at Risk’ has equipped us to bring out stories that are more often than not, unheard.

What began as a journey from the Aadharshila Observation Home for Boys, Kingsway Camp, has travelled to Vasant Valley School, New Delhi and The Tramway Theatre, Glasgow, as a part of the Home Away International theatre festival organised by the National Theatre of Scotland. This was our fourth performance of the play this year, and each helped us move forward in our endeavour to use Expressive Arts for Social Change.

We would like to thank Mr. Anubhav Nath and the support staff at 1AQ for opening out their magical space to us and helping facilitate an immersive experience ‘In the Shade of the Banyan’. We would also like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Teamwork Arts for their constant support!

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Home-Away Diaries

एक पिंजड़े में जो चिड़िया थी, ये उसकी कहानी है.
जिसके लिए पिंजड़ा ही दुनिया थी
वही सबसे खूबसूरत
वही सबसे गमगीन भी
आसमान के तारे गिने चुने
और मुट्ठी भर ज़मीं ही
रोज़ के दानो का स्वाद
और सुनना बस अपनी ही आवाज़
सिमित थी सिमटी थी पिंजड़े में दुनिया
वो दुनिया जिसे उसने अपना बना लिया था
उस के पर उस पार जाना चाहते तो थे
पर सोच के परे सोचे कैसे
पिंजड़े को तोड़े कैसे
फिर एक दिन कोई आया
दरवाज़ा खोला और चिड़िया को बताया
की चल उड़ चले साथ कही
दुनिया के उस छोर तक
पर फैला सके दम भर के अपने पुरे ज़ोर तक
हिम्मत करी काफिला उड़ चला
आसमान में बढ़ चला
चटाने देखि, पानी देखा
आंधी देखि ,तूफ़ान देखा
सूरज करीब आते देखा
अँधेरा दूर जाते देखा
चिड़ियाओं का बड़ा झुण्ड देखा
कभी रास्ता साफ़ ,कभी धुंद देखा
समझ आया की दुनिया वो रुका पिंजड़ा नहीं
बल्कि पूरी एक रवानी है
एक पिंजड़े में जो चिड़िया थी, ये उसकी कहानी है.

Penning down the experience of travelling to Glasgow is like reliving the moments again but this time with a realization of all the learning’s and knowledge that I have gained during the trip. I have been practicing theatre in Delhi from the past five years but it was for the first time that I have worked with Yuva Ekta Foundation. YEF gave me not only wings to fly abroad but also the very first opportunity to showcase my talent on any international platform. I have travelled across the country many times but trip to Glasgow was my first abroad trip.
This trip was very unique for me because in this trip I experienced many things for the first time, such as flight, ferry, island. Though I enjoyed this trip a lot but what I disliked the most is the food. I missed the Indian food like anything. Thanks to Gurudwara, Glasgow which fulfilled my hunger.
Glasgow is a beautiful, cleanliest and organized city situated on the bank of river Clyde. During this trip I have experienced the difference between two entirely different cultures, culture of East and West. Though here in India we have the city of Tahzeeb however, I witnessed the culture of THANK YOU, the disciplines on roads, there in Glasgow. The patience they have in their lifestyle, the smile they wear on their faces and the will of listening to others; contribute to the beauty of Glasgow as well as Scotland.
I shared my room with the most humorous, spontaneous and happy go lucky kind of person – Rajesh Gandhi ji. In him I found not only a friend but a big brother.
The most relaxing part of this journey was my teammates who by the passage of time has become like family. The best element of family is that family supports, understands and stand by you, whatever comes your way. The family enjoys even the dumbest joke cracked by you because they understand your humor as well as for them you are the priority. This does not mean that family is fake or artificial, it is that they want you to realize that whatever the world think of you but this is a place where your voice will be heard.
Last but not the least, for me this journey would not have been possible without certain people and one of them is Puneeta Roy madam. I thank her and Dilip Shanker Sir for selecting me for the role of Roop Singh.
Thank you all the teammates. I enjoyed the company of all of you.

-Varun played the character ‘Roop Singh’ in the play ‘Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein’ which was performed at the Home Away Festival in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Home-Away Diaries

I have always found it difficult to describe my experiences through words and when the experiences are worthwhile, humongous, beautiful, full of life and positivism, refreshing (well, actually I ran out of objectives), then it makes it even more difficult.

To be honest it was a magical journey. From the auditions till the day we performed at the TRAMWAY on 9th of October, 2016. Never thought that this journey would become an experience of a lifetime. This was my first international trip and I am quite confident about the fact this is just the beginning.

The whole rehearsal process was so enriching, enlightening and informative. All of us were meeting and working for the first time and during the entire process of working professionally how we became family. I learnt so many things and most importantly how to apply those in work. I personally felt growing and evolving as an actor, as well as a person. The approach of our director (Puneeta ma’am) is fabulous; she always allowed each of us to get out of our limits and pushed us for that extra mile. When your director allows you to do that, you actually grow as an actor. She is always like a mother figure to me since Day 1. When you have a bunch of talented people working alongside you quite naturally you challenge your limitations and push yourself.

Meeting so many people from diverse cultures, knowing their culture, talking to them, discussing art and various other things with them increases your craving for more. We all were strangers to each other when we met but we blended in a short span of time. Well, that is exactly what Theatre is all about. Met a bunch of young American group from Chicago and after watching them perform on stage with their music instruments I got inspired heavily. I have decided to learn a music instrument (Ukulele). As an actor I felt that I should have known how to play an instrument. I wish that the festival continued for a few more days.

As I sign off I would say one thing that before the festival commenced I was a different individual and after the festival I am a different person altogether. Thank you The Yuva Ekta Foundation for choosing me and giving an opportunity to learn and perform.

-Amitabh Acharya played the characters  ‘Ashrafi’ and ‘Munim ji’ in the play ‘Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein’. Amitabh is a professional actor and is currently acting in Kingdom of Dreams productions ‘Jhumroo’ and ‘Zangoora’.

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Home-Away Diaries

“बरगद की छांव”, मुझे इस इसकी छाओं में आने का मौका तब मिला जब मैं पहली बार ऑडिशन देने गया,पहले राउंड ऑडिशन के बाद जब मुझे राजन के करैक्टर का ऑडिशन करने के लिए बोला गया तो मैं सोचने लगा की ये कैरेक्टर तो बहोत बेहतरीन है, कई सारे एक्टर्स आये थे ऑडिशन के लिए और मैं इसे करना चाहता था, तो ऑडिशन भी हुआ और मुझे ये करैक्टर करने का मौका भी मिला। फिर 29 जून को हम लोगों को जहांगीर पूरी c ब्लॉक में बुलाया गया ताकि सारे एक्टर्स उस माहौल को समझ पाएं जिस तरह के एरिया की ये कहानी है,और जिस तरह के करैक्टर हम सब करने वाले थे, मुझे इस चीज ने बहोत हेल्प की राजन के करैक्टर को बनाने में। इसी दिन पूरी टीम से मुलाक़ात भी हुई, फिर बरगद की छाओं में की कहानी को जिवंत करने की कोशिश शुरू हुई, और इस प्लेय को बनाते बनाते कुछ अंजान लोग एक परिवार में तब्दील हो गए,और देखते ही देखते 9 सितम्बर यानि वो दिन आ गया जब हमें अपना पहला शो  जुविनाइल होम किंग्सवे कैंप में करना था, यहाँ शो करने का अनुभव बहोत ही बेहतरीन रहा, वहां के बच्चे राजन के कैरेक्टर से ज़्यादा कनेक्ट कर पा रहे थे क्योंकि राजन उनमें से ही एक था, उस दिन राजन को जी कर एक एक्टर के रूप में मुझे बहोत मज़ा आया, राजन के कैरेक्टर को करते हुए मुझे और गहराई से ये समझ आया की कई बार गलत संगत, गलत डिसीजन, और कई बार बिना गलती के भी बच्चों को बहोत बड़ी कीमत चुकानी पड़ती है।

16 सितम्बर को हमने वसंत वैली में शो किया, जो की एक इनडोर ऑडिटोरियम में हुआ यहाँ प्लेय का करने का अनुवभ भी अलग था क्योंकि की यहाँ हमारी ऑडियंस अलग थी ,जगह अलग थी।

स्कॉटलैंड

2014 में युवा एकता के साथ ही मैं शून्य से शिखर नाम का प्लेय करने आया था, और 2016 में बरगद की छाओं में।

यहाँ कई सारे ग्रुप्स आये हुए थे उनकी वर्कशॉप अटेंड की और उनके शो देखे, ये जो एक्सपीरिएंस मुझे यहाँ मिला उसको शब्दों में बयान करना मुश्किल है,किसी भी वर्कशॉप में मैं अंजान लोगों से बड़ी आसानी से कनेक्ट हो जाता था जैसे उनको बहोत पहले से जनता हूँ, मेरे ख्याल से ये ही थिएटर का पॉवर है।

9 अक्टूबर जिसका हम सबको बहोत इंतज़ार था वो दिन भी आ ही गया, ये प्लेय इसी दिन के लिए तैयार किया गया था, शो के दौरान मैंने महसूस किया कि सब लोग एक्टिंग नहीं कर रहे थे सब के सब उन किरदारों को जी रहे थे,उस दिन कुछ मैजिक सा हुआ था, सबने बहोत उम्दा काम किया था, शो के बाद लोगो से बात हुई लोग पर्सनली आ कर स्टोरी के बारे में, किरदारों के बारे में, परफॉरमेंस के बारे में बात कर रहे थे, इससे मुझे ये समझ आया की लोग बरगद की छांव में प्लेय से कनेक्ट हो पाए थे, इस बात का क्रेडिट मेरे हिसाब से  सबसे ज़्यादा हमारे शो की डायरेक्टर पुनीता रॉय मैम को जाता है, जिन्होंने इतनी रियल और बेहतरीन स्टोरी लिखी और साथ ही साथ सारे एक्टर्स को पूरा मौका दिया अपने किरदारों के साथ जस्टिस करने का । और फिर क्रेडिड जाता है हमारी पूरी टीम को,जिन्होंने इस शो को बनाने के लिए बहोत मेहनत की।

मुझे भी इस प्लेय के दौरान अपने किरदार राजन को बनाने के लिए बहोत काम करने का मौका मिला,मैं कई दिनों से कुछ ऐसा काम करना चाहता था, मैं ग्लास्गो ट्रिप के दौरान अपनी टीम को और गहराई से जान पाया, मैंने ये भी महसूस किया कि जब आपके आस पास पॉजिटिव लोग होते हैं तो हम भी पॉजिटिव होते चले जाते हैं और हमारा काम भी बेहतर होता चला जाता  है, मेरी तो पूरी टीम ही पॉजिटिव लोगो से भरी हुई है, मैं अपनी पूरी टीम को थैंक यू कहना चाहता हूँ, मैं National Theater Of Scotland को भी थैंक यू कहना चाहता हूँ जिन्होंने इतना प्यारा, इतना शानदार Home Away फेस्टिवल ऑर्गनाइज किया ।

इस ट्रिप के दौरान मैं घुमा भी और नेचर को थोड़ा और जाना भी, नई नई जगह और लोगो को देख कर लगा की दुनिया में बहोत कुछ है एक्स्प्लोर करने को।

ओवरऑल मुझे एक ऐसा एक्सपीरियंस मिला जो मेरे लिए बहोत अनमोल है, ये मुझे हमेशा याद रहेगा, इस शो का हिस्सा बन कर मैं बहोत लकी फील कर रहा ह और आगे हमे और भी शो करने हैं उसके लिए भी मैं उस्सहित हूँ, इसके लिए युवा एकता फाउंडेशन का जितना भी थैंक किया जाये काम होगा।

Thank you The Yuva Ekta Foundation, Puneeta Maam, Dilip Sir, Mrinalini ma’am and Gilles sir for the opportunity

-Pankaj Gupta plays the character of ‘Rajan’ in ‘Bargad ki Chhaon Mein’, the play that was performed in Glasgow, Scotland as part of Home/Away Festival.

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Home-Away Diaries

Working as the Creative Partner between National Theatre of Scotland and Yuva Ekta allowed me the unique position to visit rehearsals and performances of the production. From the early rehearsals I attended it was apparent that the work being created and presented was of a high standard with care being taken not only to find the most appropriate performers but also creative collaborators to tell this important story.

I was lucky to meet the head teachers of the some of the schools who were familiar with Yuva Ekta and their work. They were incredibly excited and supportive of the story being told and the voices being heard within this production. The cast were incredibly sensitive to doing justice to the material and where these stories had generated from. A great deal of the rehearsal process was used to find and play the truth of the situations and were expertly led by Puneeta Roy. A great deal of time and effort was put into creating a quality production that would speak to audience, regardless of language.

Watching the show happen in Vasant Valley School prior to the Glasgow production was incredibly exciting. Hearing the audience applaud, laugh, gasp and finally stunned in silence was a powerful experience. The silence soon turned to excitement as the young audience crowded Puneeta, the director and the cast to ask more questions about the process and the material. For many, this was an introduction to a new understanding of how some people in their city live. The play translated so well as part of the Home/Away festival. The character led and political story brought a slice of New Delhi to Glasgow but drew many comparisons to discussions and social issues relevant worldwide today. The humour and tragedy of the story translated (apparently) effortlessly. The huge amount of work taken out by the cast and creative team produced an exceptional performance showcasing the many talents that where on and off stage.

- Fraser MacLeod is Creative Learning Coordinator, National Theatre of Scotland. Fraser was Creative from NTS who visited us during our Development Process in July and came back for our Home Performance in September.

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Director’s Note

“Didi (sister), will you bring me a Tulsi (basil) plant on your next visit? The Tulsi is sacred; I will put it in my mandir (temple).”

This is the summer of 2009. We are at the Observation Home for Boys at Kingsway Camp, Delhi, surrounded by 25 juvenile offenders who have come to attend my Remedial Drama workshop. We are discussing dreams and aspirations and as the boys share their stories, Rahul asks me for a basil plant.

Robbery, Murder, Rape, Extortion – their crimes are brutal.                Each boy feels falsely implicated, believes that the system is working against him. Most come from dysfunctional families, have no Role Models, no Heroes who can inspire them to find a way out of the horrific entanglement of drugs, alcohol and crime.

Our challenge is to make them aware of their choices in every situation, choices that will empower rather than debilitate them. We begin using the tools of Theatre and Expressive Arts and every few months a new intervention convinces me of the possibilities of a new start to these young lives.

This is the space from where our play “Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein” is born. Questioning the ever-widening chasm between the marginalized and the privileged, demanding accountability from a society that aspires more for Mercs and Mobiles rather than a qualitative education for all.

We have begun to work at a resettlement slum close by where many juveniles live and as I try to understand complex migration issues, I sometimes falter, grow weary. And then I remember my first conversation with Rahul, seven years ago.

“Rahul, tell me then, where does your God reside?”                                           “In the temple that is within my heart!” he answers.                                       “And when you pick up a knife to kill, where does your God go?” I ask. “Didi, the doors of my temple were open long before and my God has left me. I am still waiting for him to return!”

The Banyan is a healing tree, with a loving, protective aura that embraces all with its grace.  Our play attempts to re-create this magical, expansive space in which everyone is welcome.

- Puneeta Roy, Managing Trustee – The Yuva Ekta Foundation, is Writer and Director for the play- ‘Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein- In the shade of the Banyan’ which will be travelling to Glasgow, Scotland in early October as part of National Theatre of Scotland’s project HOME AWAY.

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Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein- Home Performances

What an extraordinary journey it has been for all of us since we embarked on our Bargad project!

It was mid June when our auditions began. Selecting a cast of 13 was a daunting task but we have been fortunate to have assembled a group of actors who connected with our vision for the play, and contributed their energy and love.

Two and a half months of intense rehearsal included visits to the slum re-settlement colony that formed our inspiration for the play. Come September and we were ready to test the waters with home audiences.

9th September. The first port of call was the Juvenile Remand Home in North Delhi, where we began our Expressive Arts work 7 years ago. We were especially keen to see their response since some of the characters in the play were drawn straight from our experiences in the home.

150 young boys from the ages 16 – 18 years along with their welfare officers, the Superintendent of the Home as well as the Principal Magistrate formed our audience.

Their response  was overwhelming. As we opened up the session for feedback and discussion with the boys, they stood up and shared how closely they could identify with the play. They particularly  related to Rajan, one of the characters in the play who is a repeat offender and is caught in the web of crime from a young age. In fact , in every scene of his performance, Rajan’s entry was met by cheers from the crowd! We also received encouraging feedback from the staff at the Home.

16th September. A week later. We took the show to Vasant Valley School, an elite up market institution, whose students did not have much exposure to the world of juveniles or crime.

As the lights faded out at the end of the performance, there was complete silence in the hall. The students looked in an absolute state of shock after the play. It was an alien universe for them, and the characters’ reality very different from their reality. As they started to leave the hall, we were suddenly surrounded by a group of 35 – 40 students and teachers, with innumerable questions about  the characters, stories and scenarios that were part of the performance. Some of them were very keen to volunteer with us and visit the Juvenile Remand Home.

Both shows left us with a sense of satisfaction as well as urgency – to reach out to more audiences, to go deeper into our characters, to explore these realities more and more.

We are now packed for Glasgow and are looking forward to our show on the 9th of October. When we return home, we will reach out to more diverse communities and use this as a platform to initiate constructive discussions.

Photo Credits- The Yuva Ekta Foundation, Subhadra Kamath and Trina Shankar

 

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Community Theatre Workshops in Jahangir Puri

The Yuva Ekta Foundation conducted a 2 week-long theatre workshop with students of Govt. Co Ed. Senior Secondary School, K Block, Jahangir Puri. These workshops were conducted in the month of May, and mark the beginning of the second phase of our Community Outreach Project in the area. The Foundation has been trying to build a community base since July 2015, and these workshops were a marvellous experience.

We worked with 80 students from school in 2 batches for girls and boys separately. The workshops culminated in 2 distinct interactive performances that covered everyday issues in Jahangir Puri and their link with larger socio-economic problems. These performances were then showcased to the parents of the participants on 28th May, 2016. What followed was an intense discussion on relevant community issues which were portrayed and discussed through the use of Playback Theatre, by facilitators from The Foundation.

We would like to thank The Directorate of Education for granting us permission to conduct these workshops. We would also like to thank the school staff for helping us throughout this project.

We are on-course to build a network of community members. A pilot project that started with a group of 25 women, now includes more than 200 families.

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PLAYBACK THEATRE Workshop with Brian Tasker

The Yuva Ekta Foundation recently organised a three-day theatre workshop on the technique of PLAYBACK THEATRE, conducted by our guest facilitator Brian Tasker. Participants included actors and musicians from diverse backgrounds and organisations.

It was a great learning experience for all of us, and we aspire to set up Yuva Ekta Playback Theatre Group, which will be an integral part of our Community Outreach project at Jahangirpuri.

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Finding me – Jaipur Diaries

The finding me workshop has been one of the most amazing things that I have ever experienced. This has truly changed the way I look at life drastically.

Ten days ago, when I entered the workshop, I did not believe in the fact that we, the youth, had the power of affecting and influencing people and encouraging them to be the better people that they are. This workshop has made me aware that people of my age face all kinds of problems. That mine are not the most important. That I am not the only one. It has taught me that everyone in this world, no matter what their caste, creed, color, shape, size; are the same. That we all think alike and experience the same things.

When we set out to spread this message to the youth, the feeling was wonderful. I realized that helping someone else overcome their flaws or plain accepting themselves and others as they are, is the best thing one can do.

I have realized that we, the youth, can make a great impact on the world, to make it a better place for you and for me.

- Simran Jain from Jayshree Periwal High School was one of the participants of the Youth Outreach workshop at Jaipur Literature Festival 2016