In a bid to include all children in its monthly workshops, The Navhind Times organised a special session for under-privileged children from homes and NGOs across the state on Sunday, January 7 at Dempo House, Panaji. The children in the age group of 7 to 16 from Asro, Tivim; Novem Jeevit, alto Santacruz; El Shaddai, Assagao; Care and Compassion, Bambolim; Hamara School, St Inez and Bethesda Life Centre, alto Santacruz participated in the half-day story-telling through drama workshop conducted by theatre activist and dentist, Sharmila Rao. About 100 children participated enthusiastically in the workshop that consisted of dance, music, acting and loads of fun.
The workshop began with participants being divided into groups followed by an icebreaker game of throw the ball. Through this activity participants briefly introduced themselves and their likes and dislikes. There was a lot of hesitation initially but further into the workshop, the children were completely at home and at ease. Sharmila conducted the workshop in English and Hindi and ensured all participants were involved in the various activities. Exercises, mimes, skits and more were included into the meticulously planned sessions.
The ice-breaker was followed by an interactive session wherein the children and Sharmila discussed the need to tell stories, the different kinds of stories and favourite stories. The story that came up as everyone’s favourite was the one, where the hero is given or faced with three challenges, overcomes them all and wins the trophy.
Next each group was asked to come up with an idea that they wanted to share with the others. The buzz and excitement as children discussed this was infectious and soon even the quiet ones were pulled into the fun and laughter. The idea that each group came up with was then developed into a story and the events and scenes were plotted. After a few theatre games to create dialogues, the students came up with their own dialogues for their story that were pertinent and creative at the same time.
In the session that followed the participants were made to understand the role of voice and vocal variety and had to incorporate that into their performance. Under the topic of space, participants explored the possibility of using space creatively. They learnt to use various levels of space, and look at their surroundings as theatre spaces, as they created dynamic and original presentations. After this the students created music and background sound using coconut shells, dandiyas and bells. A few of the participants were good musicians and used their skills to incorporate the music they had created into their play.
Issues like, saving the girl child, education for girls, cleanliness, etc were undertaken as central themes and each group used as many group members as they could to put up their plays. It was truly amazing to see the children voicing their concerns, and more interesting that they had come with solutions to overcome these concerns. The workshop ended with certificates of participation being handed out by Sharmila.