REALIZING OUR OPEN SPACE through “THEATRE OF RELEVANCE”
REALIZING OUR OPEN SPACE through “THEATRE OF RELEVANCE”
By Ashwini Narayan
“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” said Shakespeare as he hit the note on Life being a mere play where we are designed to be virtuous with righteousness and courage. In this stage of life, we find our self as we recite our dialogues, sometimes of lost love and gratitude, sometimes of wrath and vengeance. But have we ever questioned ourselves, summoned our courage to reshape our characters, to sometimes explode with the ugly truth that lies beyond this unconquerable stage, or just stay up on that podium and recreate our lines, passively with no interest. But this stage, we took up, ironically was not even a stage until we marched up there and shook the people around us awake. And that is the beauty of street Theatre and of course that is the crown jewel of the Theatre of Relevance (TOR).
There is a famous Tamil proverb that says a single tree will never make an orchard , and an orchard we formed .Now 13 young minds can proudly stand up to this world and proclaim ourselves to the harbingers of Change. TOR was introduced to us by Mr. Manjul Bhardwaj himself on a bright afternoon in a passive environment. But nobody knew at that time that Mr. Bhardwaj`s brainchild (TOR) was going to give us a vision, a vision for the future.
Without much ado, let us focus on the crux of “Right to Open Space”. It was indeed a new experience for all the participants. We began with the Idea of Visualizing the self. This concept of “Self” was nothing new. But the method of discovering that cozy spot with the self was unique to each and every one. It was an evolution. An evolution of the Mann, the mind, heart and the thought. It was as if we grew up with the other members of this wonderful group. We shared our everyday experiences with each other, some laughed, some fought and some cried. It was a never ending drama within this drama which made us bond. We became the entity of the group, never losing the identity of our own unique selves. We improvised from this point. We invented scenes from our routine life and put together few episodes and enacted them with much enthusiasm. There was no body to shy away from and so we were loyal to our emotions and feelings. We blindfolded ourselves to feel the space. We were kings and Queens, and we reigned over the space as one.
After every session, we went back to our homes and shared our experiences to our parents and friends so as to be in connection with this process even after a few hours of rest. Most importantly we drew on that concept and shared all our experiences so as to remember them and be happy.
It was a learning process. Somehow it still will be even after it is over. We learnt principles that not only adhere to the TOR but also to life itself. We slowly begun to let loose our minds and take our actions take course. We were not the “normal students”, the ones who sat in their chairs, most rigidly as the wise professor lectured us on the science and history of his or her subject. Our theme is “Right to open space” and we learnt to respect, demand and enjoy our space before putting it forward gallantly to the public.
We had the liberty to deal with our selves where we connected and established a relationship with the space. We swung on window sills, climbed on pavements, rolled of the ground sometimes by mere accident and sometimes purposefully with great happiness. At other times we stood in our space, breathed the very air with reverence to the land that we stamp, run and sob on as she bears us with no grudge, only with adoration as a mother looks upon her child.
The next step was the tough one. We had to write our script. We sat there in a circle, so that we can look at each and every member of the group. We shared our collective ideas; few dejected faces came up while some were successful in acquiring the full support of the group. If it were any other process, it would’ve come to a standstill, but this is no ordinary process nor was we ordinary people. We picked ourselves up improvised and dint stop until everyone’s voice was heard and everyone was represented. And then a realization hit us, we are not here to represent ourselves and glorify our humble thoughts. We are here to represent those hundreds who weren’t to raise to the world the same questions, the same despair, the same happiness and we, the 13, grabbed the torch of revolution and immersed ourselves in the cauldron of liberation.
All great revolutions of the world did not happen overnight, Dr Fleur D’Souza constantly reminded us during our college lectures. And this process was no exception. We took our own sweet time trying to locate our area of interest and came with numerous themes such as gender impurities, linguistic barriers, stereotypes and other vile creatures that slither in our society in every open corner.
Then came the question of the audience. I would like to remind the readers that this process did not take mere hours. We sat and contemplated every single idea over and over again to achieve that acute sensitivity towards the subject and the other members of the group. The concept of the play we derived from the theme was in such a manner that we are personally sensitive to the environment around us. We kept our energy levels raised and relentlessly focused on each and every aspect of the play.
We interacted and interfaced each other at this point so we could develop and common ground for our emotions. Coming back to the entire concept of the Audience, as they were considered as part of the play, we decided to perform only those actions that were voluntary and conscious. We avoided all those actions that where habits or just cultural construction. Here we learnt two important things. First, that all actions get magnified when performed in front of the audience. That even the tiniest of gestures carry great meaning while performed in front of a crowd. Second, those socially constructed gestures that vary from the genders are mostly demeaning. These are patriarchal indicators concealed under the rug of tradition that make it impossible to abolish them. Some of them include the idea of women having to bow down so as to display higher virtue and morale. From these two gems of wisdom we were enlightened to not only Street Theatre but also the science of Sociology and Art.
We head on to the next step of knowledge. Ignorance is very much prevalent in the society. It is the disease that cripples us, the leech that corrupts us, the poison that kills us. We went on a slow realization of the functions of the government or for that matter, any system that create public utilities for public welfare. We heard stories form Mr. Vijay that caused us to think far beyond convention. We banished the dark corners of ignorance and learnt a few things that will create questions in our minds.
We walked the walk and talked the talk. We headed on as collective minds and creative thoughts. We became energies not mere individuals. We voiced those cries that needed to be heard and hope to motivate more with our ideas. If not great changes, we at least want to create a spark in those restless minds that watched, or heard or read us.
We are thankful to all of those who encouraged us and grateful to all those who now think. We don’t want to claim this as a success not to exhibit we are gallant , we want not because this is our stepping stone , or rather they are our stepping stone , Mr. Manjul , Mr. Vijay and the very land that we stomp on. We derived from them energy while they bore us on their humble self. We from now will remember forever that we are the leaders of our self. It is important to remember as Ayn Rand said “Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves - or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.”