Tag Archives: storytelling

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Paper Puppet Theatre and Storytelling @ Kahaani Jaipur 2016

The Yuva Ekta Foundation has been associated with the Kahaani Festival in various capacities for the past few editions – as Artists, Line Producers as well as Programming Consultants.

The Kahaani Festival’s second edition for this year was recently held at the Jayshree Periwal International School, Jaipur on 5th & 6th December. This time we  participated as Artists and had a wonderful interaction with children of different age groups through both our performances.

‘Stars in his Eyes’ is a simple story for  4-8 year olds, about a poor orphan ‘Moti’ whose village is destroyed in a Flood. Displaced and ignored by all, kind and gentle Moti finds solace in the stars, and forms strong connections with many of them, the brightest being Naintara.. He also longs to be befriended by one of the smart school children he sees everyday, who walk past him without a second glance! Eventually it is his friendship with Naintara that saves this small town from a disastrous flood and Moti emerges a Hero.  

‘Stars in his Eyes’ also works as a parable intended to sensitize privileged young children towards their less fortunate peers, as well as re-connect them with the infinite wisdom of Nature.

We also performed a Paper Puppet performance titled ‘Survival’ which narrates the story of a poor Dalit family struggling to find food and survive the exploitation they have suffered at the hands of Rich farmers. Even the Rats seem to have a better life! 

Targeted at 11 year olds and above, ‘Survival’ captures one night in the lives of the landless labourer Raju, his wife Matia and son Sonu. Just as they discover some grain in a rat hole, they realise the hole is also home to a poisonous snake, who has found warmth in this hole. Is Raju desperate enough to dare death and take on the snake? Can the snake be pushed away from his refuge? Who wins in this clash of Wills?

A gripping story told through the magic of Paper Puppets, our 12- minute performance was followed by a workshop where the participants were given cut-outs of various characters and as groups, they created short stories that were performed for everyone. Some of these performances dealt with issues like Bullying in  school and Gender Bias in  Sports.

 

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Home-Away Diaries

“Only connect!” – E.M. Forster

In times when building walls is being noisily celebrated, art silently labours in creating bridges. It is one of the most satisfying labour one can experience. Theatre being the most hybrid form of expression unearths a world of perspectives and possibilities. It thus has the ability to ignite hope and spirit amongst people, come what may.
My journey with The Yuva Ekta Foundation- working on our play “Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein” (In The Shade of the Banyan) – has helped me grow both as a performer as well as an individual. Reflecting on the entire process of collectively creating this production- from stimulating rounds of auditions, the overwhelming visit to Jahangirpuri (of which the stories we attempt to portray), the number of innovative workshops and the consistent rehearsals- I cannot help but share my absolute delight at being challenged on each step!

One might think of oneself as a performer/ individual of a certain measurable capacity. Then of course there’s the typical “scope for improvement” remark that follows one throughout. But never have I “witnessed” the breaking of limits we set on ourselves like I experienced at The Home Away Festival at The National Theatre of Scotland. Our play totally had a life of its own on the day of the performance! The characters came alive on stage like never before. Was it the energy of the space? The audience? The months of hard work everyone had put in? Yes, yes, and yes. But above all, I think, it was because we all actually believed in the infinity of our potential (both of our play and as individuals) that it became the highlight of the entire journey.

Meeting theatre enthusiasts from across the globe, sharing performances and practices, exploring the breathtaking beauty of landscapes miles and miles away, and bringing back home new friendships and such warm memories is something I will cherish forever.

A big Thank you to our dear director Puneeta Roy, The Yuva Ekta Foundation, Dilip sir and Gilles, Simon Sharkey, The National Theatre of Scotland, and all my fellow cast members of “Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein”.

-Harmanpreet Kaur plays the character ‘Anju’ in the play ‘Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein’ that was showcased at National Theatre of Scotland’s Home Away Festival in Glasgow, Scotland.

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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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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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Community Theatre Workshops

We have been working at the Juvenile Observation Homes in the Sewa Kutir Complex, Kingsway Camp, for 6 years now. Through a number of Theatre and Art workshops we have broken ground with several young inmates, empathised with their heart breaking stories and hoped that the seeds being sown would bear fruit soon, hopefully guiding them towards a more meaningful future.

However we realised that our time with them at the home is too short – barely a month before they are released on bail. What is to be done for a long term impact?

We have to go to the Source – to their homes and work with their families. We begin to find ways to penetrate into this community. It took over 3 months of networking, of following different leads, some which end up as dead ends! But slowly, we start making our connections. We focussed on the women, the mothers of the boys we have worked with in the Observation Home. Regular visits to their houses to explain our intent, started building trust and bit by bit, the pieces started falling into place.

The workshops were held in a small hall in a boisterous government school as the women respond and turned up out of curiosity. Some brought their daughters and together we pushed boundaries as the community space grew into one of warmth and laughter!

The workshops were a delightful experience of sharing stories and lightening their burden as we introduced them to basic concepts of theatre and role play!

Day 1: Ice breaking, introductions. Getting to know each other’s names and backgrounds and speaking about the issues they deal with everyday in Jahangirpuri

Day 2: Art and writing, starting with their names and symbols of things they like, to introduce themselves in a deeper manner. Then we broke into a group of women talking about their childhood and the difference they feel in themselves today. The children’s group drew and spoke about the images of the ‘Jahagirpuri of their Dreams”

Day 3: We started with some movement work, loosening up and connecting with each other deeper. The mirror exercise, connecting with finger tips and back supporting exercise were very intense experiences for the women, one of them even broke down on receiving such unconditional love and warmth. Then each group did a role play on scenes they see inside their homes.

Day 4: We worked more on movement through a dance exercise, which continued into a story telling exercise. We then created role plays in groups- the women worked on expressing anger and issues of substance abuse as a theme and the children chose socially relevant issues like cleanliness and violence against women.

Day 5: Being the last day, we worked more on physical movement through another dance exercise and did a waste recycling workshop using newspapers to make pens. We wrapped up with a creative visualisation and feedback session, vowing to meet again in the near future. They took back the pens as a souvenir from the workshops.

These past few days have been quite a revelation and we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg as we have just begun to connect with these amazing women and their children! It is almost difficult to believe that such a workshop was possible in Jahangir Puri, the very same resettlement colony that always seemed so fraught with tension and fear. We intend to take forward this work that we have begun in Jahangir Puri over the past few months.

 

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The Boy Who was Afraid to Sleep

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The Yuva Ekta Foundation in collaboration with the Kahaani Festival and the One World College of Music stages its production “The Boy Who was Afraid to Sleep” on the 16th of May at the One World College of Music.

Join us on a journey of self discovery and dream spaces with Adi, Bella and their friends. The play encourages people to dream, to be imaginative, without being afraid or boxed into categories, without fear of judgement. While each child has a unique and colourful imagination, the play resonates with all age groups giving us an opportunity to connect with our inner child.

The 20 minute play then goes into a story telling workshop, where we use basic theatre, music, art and writing techniques, to help participants create stories and performances of their own.

Duration of Workshop: 2 hours (workshop and performances by groups)

Participants: Adults and Children together (Family Participation is encouraged!)

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‘The Magical Cauldron of Stories’ at Kahaani

The Yuva Ekta Foundation conducted storytelling and creative writing workshops at Kahaani Festival, organized by Teamwork Arts at Jaipur and Ludhiana.

‘The Magical Cauldron of Stories’ was a space of great mystery and suspense where everything is possible as the children took off on flights of fantasy…where MAGIC could happen…where the facilitators dressed up as mythical characters that enrapture the children with larger than life stories and then cull out ideas/ stories from the participants, creating a space of anticipation, enchantment and thrills!

Irrespective of the age group, children created most amazing stories and enchanting scenarios, and it was heartening to see them explore a world of infinite possibilities and rich imagination.

Here’s one of the many stories that were created in the Magical Cauldron!

‘THE MAGICAL MASK’

Once there was a boy who was very kind, but everybody teased him because of his looks. One day he went on a school picnic with his class. His classmates teased him again so he became very sad and went alone for a walk. After a long walk he found a cave. He went inside and started looking around, and then he heard a strange voice. He tried to find where the voice was coming from, and then he noticed that the voice was coming from the ground. He dug up and found the most beautiful mask. As soon as he wore the mask he became very strong and brave.

One day the boys who teased him got into trouble, but the boy with the help of his magical mask saved them. The boys were really sorry and apologized for teasing him. All became friends and they lived happily ever after.

- Parth Ladiwal

Class 6, Age- 10 years, Step by Step School, Jaipur

 

 

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