Final week!

So we’re at that stage already. It’s time to leave. We’ve had the most incredible time here and have learned so much along the way. We hope the girls have enjoyed the drama sessions that we have delivered and learning English along the way. As well as this we are so grateful to be leaving with the recipes for some delicious meals!

We will never forget the time we have shared here and hope the CSSD students next year have an equally enjoyable time.

This week we worked with the girls to reflect on the whole process and post images and cut-outs of hopes on the walls. The girls had individual quiet time, reflecting on everything they had done so far and where they would like their journey ahead to take them. As always, it was a pleasure to watch them work. Once the reflection was done, they created drawings and wrote messages on little cut-outs of leaves, butterflies and of course, clouds. We then pasted this on a tree that had been previously painted on one of the walls. This was a lovely, ritualistic way for us to mark the end of the journey with the girls. Always looking forward.

On this last day of the workshop, the girls had also wanted to present to us a fashion show. This idea came about when we had a previous discussion on what they had wanted to do for the last day – fashion show came out tops! We encouraged this idea as it was a perfect way for the girls to put into practice some of the show making skills they had gathered. While we only stepped in a little to help organise, the entire show was curated and executed by the girls. There was one girl who took charge coordinating the sequence and she was also the emcee. The older girls helped the younger ones to get ready and before we knew it, there was a show!

At the end of the show, the Director of the home said a few words of thanks and gave us each a small token of appreciation. It was truly heartwarming. We then thanked the girls and everyone in the home for their support, commitment to the workshops and above all else, their generosity and kindness extended to us, by welcoming us into their family.

We leave with so many wonderful memories. No doubt, this experience has shaped our thoughts of what it means to be an Applied Theatre Practitioner.

We are so grateful for this opportunity that we have received and look forward to what’s to come for us and the girls at Jagshanti Udayan Ghar.

Namaste 🙂

Varshini and Emily xxx

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Week 6

Week 6 came and went in a flash! Before that, we had the chance to visit the spice market in Chandi Chowk – yeap, conquered that!

During week 6, we created a space for the girls to reflect upon memories from Summer Camp week – where many of them got to meet friends, brothers and sisters from other homes – to treasure and safe-keep the beautiful moments .

The girls enjoyed charading their favourite moments and getting their friends to guess it. We also focused on improv skills by playing games such as Park Bench and creating scenes that had to include 3 distinct rules. Through these activities, it was wonderful to see the girls put into action what they’d learned over the past 5 weeks.

The highlight of the week for all of us was having our MA programme leader visit the home together with the co project coordinator from India. They observed the workshop and took Emily and I out on 2 days. The girls got to perform the 2 scenes which debuted at summer camp finale. Our programme leader and coordinator were impressed and remarked on the levels of engagement from the girls and their improved articulation skills. Needless to say, we were feeling so proud of them!

During our outings in Delhi, we were treated to sights, sounds and sweets of India. There was exploring of markets, drinking of wine, listening to music and lots of sampling of wonderful local food. Our stomachs became bottomless pits, to an extent.

 

Over the past 5 weeks, we had also been helping the younger girls with learning English and poetry. This week they were able to recite their dictation and poetry back to us, without the paper and with actions included for the poetry. These were incredibly amazing moments, watching the girls’ progress. It made us very happy indeed.

Week 6 was a reflective one; both for us and the girls, as we looked back at the past 5 weeks and also discussed what they wanted to do for the last week (3 days).

We write this now having completed the final day of the project. Bittersweet is an understatement. More on the last week and final day coming up.

But for now, we stand in gratitude and pride of all we have witnessed; thankful for the opportunity to create spaces where others may create their own art.

Namaste 🙏🏽❤️

Summer Camp Drama Group. 40 teenagers aged 14-18, male and female.

A write-up from today’s session.

Today we created a fun and creative space that was safe for everybody to explore real social issues that affect people their age. Everybody was keen to take part after we warmed them up with games. Through the use of games as well as discussion, we managed to get very far with this group’s progress very quickly. We are very pleased and are excited to play different games over the next two days to develop their confidence and self-esteem. By playing alongside discussing issues, they will all be engaged throughout the session and be able to create a performance that will speak to them and their audience. Tomorrow we will continue to enable them to think more deeply about social issues affecting their age group through ways that they find enjoyable.

Games

A key part of our practice is play and games so to inform the rest of the workshop we always start with games. Through games, we give the group the opportunity to take part in exercises to produce an affect – an emotional response – this is metacognition where we train them into having the skill of reflecting upon their behaviour later. Discovery of emotions is crucial in play as well as how to interact with others. Play teaches us about how to bond with other people, there is an openness and a space to experiment. Today, like any other drama workshop, we started the session with games. These games included:

  • Pass The Boo and Pass The Clap. In this game, the participants are asked to pass a sound and an action around the circle. This not only engages them, but also wakes them up for the session. Very important when there is a 3 hour session ahead. This game ensures that they are invested from the start. It also encourages them to be more confident in the group as it is quite a silly game and allows them to relax around eachother. The skills from pass the boo and pass the clap are crucial in devising with a tightly bonded group. It is a quick and easy way to build a bond within a group given the short amount of time we have.
  • Bomb and shield. The exercise is a metaphor that allows us to deal with issues later on. The physicality of the exercise allows you to see the game objectively. In this game, young people become very aware of personal space. We invite people to engage in play in a structured space that is seemingly chaotic. The facilitator in this game creates the opportunity for group-mixing as well as comfort in closer personal space. Comfort with closer contact (but not physical touching) is very useful for devising.
  • ‘Go’ ball game. This game is essential for focus. In this game one person stands in the middle and throws the ball to people in the circle. When another wants to go into the middle, they shout ‘Go’ and run in. This game is very effective at achieving eye contact. What was particularly nice in this game, although some were still quite shy at this point in the day, was that everybody is given an equal chance to take part and be centre within the space. Many times in children’s lives, some children do not get this sort of opportunity so games such as ‘Go’ are very useful ways to facilitate a space in which everybody has equal opportunity to take part.
  • Musical freeze-frames. Musical freeze-frames is a fun way to learn about freeze-frames, which are crucial in creating a performance. By playing music and encouraging them to dance and move around the circle they do not consider the session like a lesson but more a fun activity. Learning through fun is an essential part of our practice. We chose songs that they had used in the dance show to make sure that the game was catered towards them.

We then took everything we had learned from each game to apply them to the next activity.

Frozen-images based on issues. 

In order for the group to explore issues that are relatable to them, we put them in groups of 5 to discuss social issues teenagers face. Social learning theory says that ‘theatre provides opportunities to enable a new change’. You need new language to create new behaviour. Through playing games and talking about social issues, we give the group the opportunity to create new language and therefore new behaviours and understandings of topics. This was shown particularly evident in the comments made in the group discussions.

They all were brilliant, using the skills and energy from the games to create images that they were passionate about. Each group had 10 minutes to create their image before we made an audience & asked them to sit and watch one another.

The whole group had to guess what image each frozen image was of and then decide on a solution to the problem.

Group 1

 Issue: A boy is proposing to his girlfriend so her brother fights him.

The rest of the group discussed a solution to the problem.

Their solutions:

1 – talk peacefully

2 – the girl should tell her brother if that is her boyfriend

Group 2

Issue: A teenager is adding a pretty girl he doesn’t know on Facebook. He wants to add her.

 Their solutions: They are strangers, she should not accept him and he should not add girls that he does not know. He may try to meet her.

 Group 3

 Issue: A girl is on the bus being harassed by a man whilst a policeman takes another man off the bus.

 Their solutions:

  1. The girl should learn self-defence
  2. She should inform people around her
  3. She should call the police
  4. Leave the bus

To the comment about the police, a debate started regarding whether or not the police would help & why the police was not arresting both men. One girl said ‘police would come after, they are bad like that’.

A boy responded: She should travel with her brother all the time.

Girl reacted: How do you always travel with your brother? They lead different lives…’

This was evidence of a very interesting debate starting relating to women’s responsibility to look after themselves – does the blame lie with men, women or both?

Group 4

 Issue: Drinking and smoking leading to addiction.

 Their solutions: Don’t drink or smoke. As teenagers it turns into addiction or health issues like cancer. You can drink in moderation.

Group 5

Issue: Boys paying off the police after harassing a school-girl.

 Solution: Make a video of the policeman taking the bribe, do not trouble a girl so that you don’t have to pay the money in the first place.

Group 6

Issue: Going on your phone during exam period and failing your exams.

 Solution: Set times for studying and time for using your phone. Put your phone away.

 Group 7

Issue: Men grabbing girls as they walk down the road. They do not know eachother. The public watching and not doing anything to stop it.

 Solution: Record for the police, respect women, the girl can run or shout for help. ‘Just don’t harass the girl’, ‘today they’re doing this to her but tomorrow it could happen to their mother or sister’.

Week 4

On the weekend we went into Delhi to do our work and see some markets. Because we don’t have wifi at the home we struggle a lot with completing university assignments. We took this weekend as a chance to get some of our work done.

The weekend was really fun, we had a karaoke night at a hostel when we finished our work and then returned to the home the next day. India gate is not as exciting as we had hoped though, we didn’t realise that the cars drive through it!

One of the older girls asked us to do 5.30am yoga with her on the balcony on Monday so we woke early & waited for her. She was still asleep and didn’t join us but it was nice to see the area so quiet when usually there are children laughing and cars honking all day. We should have woken a little bit earlier to see the sunrise!

This week the girls finished writing the narration for the play and we completed many run throughs of the show.We finished the scenes this week and managed to give the girls an experience of what a professional rehearsal week would be like, using directors notes and fun vocal and physical warm-ups. This is the last week the girls will get the chance to rehearse before the show.

We found out that the girls were not to perform their full 20 minute performance so we condensed it to 2 critical scenes. This took some negotiating on the girls’ part but they agreed to perform the alien and jungle scenes. This also allowed for really exciting costumes for the show.

We spent a session dedicated to giving the girls the materials to create their costumes for the show. They all had really exciting ideas. We provided feathers, masks, glitter, glue etc. and the home staff provided us with clothes that the girls were allowed to tear apart and sew together to create costumes. They were helping each other out, sticking feathers in each other’s hair, providing each other with needle and thread & really coming together to create the costumes.

Last week we were very organised about how the structure of the play would be created, they worked in 2 groups to create 3 scenes each to develop a play with 7 scenes and it worked very well. This week we managed to bring the scenes together very well so that they could see each other’s achievements. The main focus was teaching the girls how a play would come together. We taught them about blocking scenes, transitions and volume.

Next week is summer camp… there will be children from 14 homes here & we are delivering drama for 40 boys and girls aged 14-18 for 3 hours per day for 3 days.

Until then…

Namaste!!

 

Taj Mahal!

On 10th June we managed to go to the Taj Mahal at 5am! We arrived there at 9am and it was already boiling hot. We’ve since been told that June is not the month to attend the Taj Mahal… although we assumed as much when we were there.

Although the building is under refurbishment so has scaffolding across it it is beautiful! People kept asking to take photos with the group we were with as we were tourists. This was quite funny at first but then it became quite inconvenient when we wanted to get out of the sun and keep walking but people wanted to be photographed next to us.

On the way to the Taj Mahal, the driver let one of the group we were with play his music. He played pop music & dance music (at 5am) which inspired the driver to play Indian dance music for the whole journey home. We had such a fun time dancing in the back of the car.

Final thoughts about the Taj Mahal: SO hot but so beautiful.

Even if we won’t be able to see all of India on this trip, it was great to have been able to see the monument of love!

Week 3

Week 3 of Drama in Greater Noida has passed and it was an incredible week to say the least. We started devising for the girls’ performance at the end of their summer camp, which will begin in about a week’s time. The talented bunch, with facilitation help from us, devised and created a play in just 4 days! 4 days, 7 scenes.

What was more amazing, was watching the support the girls had for each other – there is so much camaraderie, it was a joy to be in the same space witnessing it.

We played many games to continue fostering the special team bond that the girls already have; got the girls to lead (by contributing one warm up action) the warm ups as a way of inculcating the importance of looking your for their fellow actor and constantly got them to reflect to increase their levels of self awareness.

Watching the girls perform the Golden Cloud ritual, which we do every start and end of a session was breathtaking – they’ve really learned to be aware of each other – we had goosebumps when observing the girls do the sequence after it was added to the show.

Of course the weeks aren’t without challenges – the intense heat affects all of us. While the workshops are done indoors, it still bears down on everyone, bringing energy levels really low at times. Electricity goes off in the afternoons most of the time and everyone feels like they’re sitting in ovens. Sometimes the girls have other commitments and can’t attend workshops. Sometimes the facilitators themselves, as much as they try, are exhausted from the heat, planning, trying to study and research without wifi connections leading to Vodafone data nightmares … despite it all… the show goes on and all of us are still wonderfully committed. More than that, we are passionate about it.

Looking forward to Week 4! Rehearsals, props and costume making – so much fun is waiting for us! 🙏🏽❤️🌈 making theatre, creating art, being happy.

 

Namaste 🙂

Week 2

Time flies! We just completed Week 2, what?!

The company Mercer was visiting the Care home the whole week and had arranged a number of workshops for the girls in the morning. At the end of the week, on Friday, we were invited to join the girls and Mercer on their trip to the Delhi Science Centre which was a lot of fun. On Saturday, we also got the chance to watch a Hindi movie at the cinema with the girls as it was the Home’s lead coordinator’s wife birthday and everyone was getting a movie treat! We were very pleased with ourselves, if we may add, that we checked the synopsis of the movie before going, so that we could at least have a sense of the story! No subtitles. We enjoyed it thoroughly and those cinema seats were some of the most comfy seats we both had ever sat on! 🙂

We were also asked to run a life skills workshop focusing on Goals and Hopes by the social worker assigned to the Home. We did this by getting the girls to relax and imagine a place that was relaxing such as a beautiful garden (an image work we had done in a previous session) and from there, we got them to think about their goals, what they were proud of and what they wanted to achieve. They then spent some time drawing these out as images on paper as we went around speaking to the girls individually about what they came up with. These documents were then handed over to the social worker.

Right, back to Drama. This week, our focus was on getting the girls to understand what made a story. We re-introduced the story, Cloudette, and got them to think about story creation, character development and themes.

We also focused on helping the girls create their own story for their performance that they get to do at the end of Summer camp (a short version) and at the end our project (full version).

To achieve all of these, we divided the girls into 2 groups and we employed a series of exercises such as Frozen Image creation to get them to discuss the relationships between characters, their attitudes, emotions etc. We did activities such as going round the circle and getting each girl to contribute a sentence to continue a story. Thereafter, these stories were presented to the other group.

The highlight of the week was when we used Process drama with the girls. They really enjoyed being able to ‘move’ a story in the space and to be spontaneous with ideas. Leveraging off the excitement from Process Drama, we then got the girls to brainstorm ideas for their very own story. What they came up with was incredible! There’s Bella, a stubborn 14 year old with a pet dragon named Safira which is making her mother sick (for some reason!) and one day goes missing. In her quest to search for Safira, Bella goes on multiple adventures, learning about the magic stick that Safira always plays with and how hardwork and persistence can pay off – and how you never know, when a little magic might help you along the way! 🙂

 

Brilliant week!

Namaste 🙂

Week 1

Some background info. before we talk about the project:

We arrived on Sunday and have settled in well. There are about 30 girls here and we will be working with 18 of them, aged 6-18. The girls have given us a tour of the grounds and invited us to see the butterflies in their garden. There are lots of lizards and they love to run away from them! It is very hot here – up to 45 degrees but we’re having to push through the heat. The food is fantastic too – home-cooked every day by the girls and two of the older ‘Didi’s (sisters). On our second day we went to the home’s head office & attempted to walk to a market for food. This was a bad idea and we became burned and far too hot… the midday sun here is ridiculously strong.

On 17th it was Emily’s birthday so went to the local mall to buy some clothes. Varsh was very good at telling the rickshaw drivers ‘no’. People drive fast two-ways down a one-way street so that’s fun. We’ve enjoyed laughing at the beautiful music – car horns … everywhere!

Now for the project:

Everyday we deliver 2 hours every afternoon we also teach english for 2 hours in the morning. All of the girls are very hard working and keen to do their best both in learning english and in drama. We’ve been trying out different ways to teach – from singing the alphabet to making cards for picture to spelling. It’s a good job we bought so many colouring pens with us.

This week we’ve tried a variety of drama techniques. We’ve used puppetry for storytelling, which worked very well and was engaging for all. However we realised we didn’t translate it the first time around so will have to return to it another day with a translator – still getting used to the language barrier. This didn’t seem like a problem though as the story, Cloudette, is very easy to follow & we gave them each a copy of the book to look at and follow whilst we did the puppetry.

Another session we enjoyed leading was mindfulness for creating stories. We asked the girls to lie on the floor whilst we took them through a guided imagery workshop. They all reported back that they really enjoyed it, many saying they felt like they were in a new world.

So far so good! All girls seem very engaged despite the heat and the time of the workshops (3-5pm). Next week we are looking forward to focusing more on movement and choreography as the girls apparently really enjoy movement.

Namaste 🙂

A huge warm welcome to our blog.

We are spending 7 weeks in a care home near Delhi delivering drama workshops for the girls who live at the home, we will give you weekly updates on what we have been getting up to and sharing some thoughts and feelings we’ve had along the way.

Namaste,

V & E x

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