'Theatre for a Cause', an initiative to connect beyond that one meal
The Akshaya Patra Foundation, through the medium of theatre, aimed to contribute to the child’s development and connect with the child beyond the mid-day meal program. Thus was born a very innovative initiative titled “Theatre For A Cause.” The initiative saw theatre being used to showcase to the world the latent gifts that children possess and how they can be harnessed.
55 children out of the 1500 children from five urban schools were auditioned and finally 22 children made the cut to participate in an intensive workshop by one of theatre’s well known personality - Padmavathi Rao (Pinty). After the week-long workshop, 11 children contributed to the crafting of a play titled – “Making a Man of an Ass,” which was based on a popular folk tale. What came next was 45 days of rehearsals. It also meant waking up at 5:00 am to get to rehearsals.
Making a Man of an Ass was the simple tale of a dhobi and his wife, who aspire to make their ass into a man as they are a childless couple. They nurse ambitions of their ass becoming something that in the view of the world is ‘big’. It goes on to talk about their travails during this endeavour and has powerful messages to convey in terms of what parents of today expect from their children. The story was simple and yet evoked a gamut of emotions. Humour, pathos and joy were just some of these.
Most children came from households where earning for three square meals a day was the priority. Nobody in their homes knew that the children were talented. They also did not have the wherewithal to provide support for the talent of the children to be explored or nurtured. January 21, 2011 was a big day for these 11 young minds. The play was staged at the MVT Hall at ISKON Bangalore. There was laughter, there were tears, the emotions of the audience responded to each of the emotions that the various scenes brought with them. The effort, the hard work paid off as the children were given a standing ovation at the end of the play for their flawless performances.
Justice M Rama Jois, a member of Rajya Sabha, Former Governor of Jharkhand, Bihar and Former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who was the chief guest said, “Today, these children have given a glimpse of what children from government schools, who often hail from underprivileged families are capable of.”
An excited parent said, “ I didn’t know that my child was so gifted. Seeing him perform in front of such a big audience makes me proud. A big thank you to the Akshaya Patra Team.”
This is just another beginning…