Tuesday, April 10, 2007

From the dust of Bihar to heart of Hyderabad...

The Bihar workshops ended very well-- the theatre group we were working with was to give a small informal presentation to us to show their incorporation of workshop ideas (non-verbal communication, acrobatics, puppetry, etc) into their theatrical style. Before we knew it, the informal presentation turned into a crowd of 700 with street vendors selling peanuts and bikes parked in back like an official parking lot!

Our workshops are much more ephemeral – we do not know how our work is transferred, so the performance was a fantastic experience for us as we were able to see the direct application of our training on other theatre artists who work for social change.

The whole experience in Bihar left me wondering about the difference we are making here in such a short time. Is it possible to make an impact without knowing the language or spending time just getting to know a situation, a group, a set of circumstances? We are traveling here so much and doing so many things-- one never knows if a lot of little things add up in the end.

One particularly positive example: we were working outside and teaching an acrobatic move that requires four or more people to turn over at the same time so each person has their feet on the others back. We were working with the adults and before long there were around 200 kids and general onlookers. Not but 20 minutes later, all of the children were off in another field trying the move without us there at all, at least fifty kids working together to make it work. What a scene!!!

We are now in a new place, full of quirks and character. Hyderabad is a city of chadors and smog congested street corners and urban manifestations of rural life everywhere. The outside of Islamic buildings are so carefully constructed, with curvy organic shapes, arches and ornamentation you wouldn’t believe.

The Muslim women wear black burquas here, with only their eyes showing. The best part of this city is the juxtaposition everywhere; women wearing stylish sunglasses over their burquas, other women standing adjacent in a midriff sari of bright orange. The large British architecture of covered sidewalks stands in tandem with large Muslim influenced monuments and finally the huge lake that the city hugs with a statue of Buddha right in the middle.

We are working with COVA, a organization of many volunteer organizations that works for social progress in the city. They have an "in-house" theatre company that works to spread the message across about affordable housing. It’s really fantastic.

A few more workshops and performances- and then we’re back to Delhi before heading to Afghanistan. Every day another adventure in the making...

One month to go!


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