July 05, 2009
Following a very hot summer vacation, Shikshamitra reopened on 12th June to move into its fifth year. Over the past four years, many of the older students have been exposed to various forms of art but unfortunately, there has been very little scope for physical activities. We were excited to be able to plan out a two-day workshop on theater activities with Jahar Das, who performed with a renowned theater group called Naandikar for many years.
During the two days (18-19 June), Jahar led students through various activities; the main emphasis being on reducing the childrens' inhibitions about moving their bodies. The session began with self introductions where each child was asked to mention his or her name, pronouncing it clearly. Rahul had to repeat his name a couple of times till he said it clearly: R-A-H-U-L and not R-A-U-L , as he has a habit of saying. The names with consonant clusters like Shantanu, Priyanka, Pradip were also given special attention.
The children were also exposed to some basic rhythms (Taal) and Sargam from Indian Music. Jahar had the children practice them repeatedly. He also showed them how they can invent their own music by using various daily objects, such as a steel plate and a spoon, a glass tumbler, a plastic bowl – and integrate these with the music of any regular rhythm instruments. On the first day, Jahar asked the children to enact a small skit without words: Bikey posed as a person reading a newspaper and Pradip was washing his clothes under a running tap. When Pradip forgot to indicate that he was turning off the tap, Jahar immediately pointed this out. He explained to the children that paying attention to the details is an important component of drama. On the second day, they did a skit with words. After doing some rhythm and Sargam exercises, the children were taught a modern dance with an English song.
The workshop was really fun and challenging for the children – so much so that they have asked Jahar to come to school regularly to do more drama classes. We are all happy that he has agreed to take a session once every week from July so that we can finally offer Shikshamitra students a chance to see how their bodies and minds can work together!