RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT KURIOCITY
Over the last week, six London-based students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, who are also members of the Wind-Up Penguin Theatre Company, were in Goa during their summer break spreading smiles among the underprivileged children through their music-theatre shows and workshops. Their creative programmes were specifically designed to provide a safe, enriching, and inspiring space for the children and themselves to be creative while learning about each other’s cultures. The group is self-funded; they use their resources to pay for the project as a team, and also fundraise.
The show they put up is a fun play wherein they act silly, stupid and make children laugh with their actions, costumes and the music they play. The shows lasts for about 45 minutes and is followed by a workshop wherein they interact with the children and converse with them as they believe when it comes to children, language is never a barrier, thus making even the underprivileged children feel good about themselves.
Actor and leader of the group, Issy Brownson says that the purpose of this project is to provide a safe space for children to be silly, to laugh and to engage with their imagination and to inspire confidence by creativity. “These workshops and shows are kind of escapism. It feels really good to see a group of children engaging in a silly stuff because many do not get the opportunity to have a safe space wherein they can feel free and enjoy themselves which is very important in a child’s upbringing. We help them, inspire them and help them make memories,” she says.
Adding to Issy, actor, Zoe Moore says that art is another important aspect that is brought to these children: “We see children who have so much energy and it is very healthy to use energy in a positive way. The education system completely overlooks this and children are not always exposed to art, music or drama.” She adds that orphanages provide shelter, education, food but don’t focus on other aspects, and thus they attempt to get the children involved in art and theatre.
Preparations for their show, Issy explains, began in April, when they met once a week to brainstorm and discuss what they can do, where they can take the show, what the aim is, and what they want to achieve. Following this they began meeting on weekends for four and half hours discussing things and a few days before they came to India, they spend two intensive days rehearsing. Moore believes that the beauty of theater lies in the fact that it happens in the moment, “it can never be the same and everything is invented right there.”
The group has been touring other Indian cities before landing in Goa and their shows change every time. French hornist, Frank Walker says: “Every project we do we take a different show, different group of people, different actors, musicians, different places and it is a new show every time. He adds that sometimes they get an audience of 300 children and sometimes 15, so they change the programme according to the numbers. “It is a different experience with 300 children and 15 children,” adds Frank. They try to keep an open mind when they visit a new place as they don’t really know what is in store for them.
When asked what difference these shows/workshops make in the lives of these children, Moore tells us that they all are huge believers that art, music, theater is self expression. “In a couple of shows we ask children what they have learnt from what they have seen or while working with us. And we have very emotional experiences,” she adds. Issy adds that the generosity of the human spirit has been quite overwhelming, everywhere they have been. For Frank the most amazing part is that despite these children being underprivileged, they have a zest for life and that is a lesson for all.
While on their one week stay in Goa the group has performed for the Childs Play Foundation in Menezes Braganza Hall; Caritas Goa – St Francis Xavier Centre for the handicapped, Bainguinim, Old Goa; St Bridget’s Institute of Home Science, Aldona; Shanti Niketan School, Assagao; Asha Deep Day Care Shelter Project Panaji; ASRO Community Care Home for children with HIV, Tivim; Care and Compassion – Goa Charitable Trust Boys and Girls Home, Panaji etc.