On July 7,young actors from three shelters in Delhi will attempt to teach an adult audience at the Indian Habitat Centre about the importance of having fun. Directed by Delhi-based theatre person Lokesh Jain,Rang Surang has emerged from a month-long workshop during which the youngsters ran free in a park in Hauz Khas,climbed peepal and gulmohar trees,and collected amaltas flowers,in between recounting incidents from their lives on the streets,dealing with family violence and hunger,and the fantasy world they had created in order to escape reality.
Every child has his own world of imagination to retreat into when real life gets boring or unbearable. If an adult were to enter into this private world,he would get valuable lessons about the things that a child holds truly important, says Jain,whose group,Mandala,has been conducting month-long workshops with children for the past 12 years. Rang Surang is the result of this years workshop,and includes children from the NGOs Jamghat,Aanchal and Karam Marg.
The narrative begins with three birds,who capture the colours of the sky and return to earth with flowers in rainbow hues. Thereafter,the action proceeds in non-linear vignettes that attempt to evoke emotions of freedom and fun. Jains productions are well-known for their stylised actions and,in this case,the actors recreate the age of innocence through actions that simulate playing with flowers,entering into a dark,mysterious cave full of secrets and rolling in heather.
Even dry flowers become toys with which to pass the time of day, says Jain. These simple actions,however,are layered with meaning when children break off from an activity to spin merrily on their feet,they are in fact recreating the age-old dance of Sufi saints in a trance. The play is non-verbal and the only sounds are music from a flute,wooden sticks and childrens chatter.
The dramatic conflict comes in the form of modern Delhi,where parks the only patch of nature in an urban space have been converted into parking lots or bar people from climbing trees or stepping on the grass. Add to that the fact that most parks are said to be unsafe after dark,and the play rubs home the point that city-bred children are being forced away from the land of dreams.
In the modern world,games are a waste of time because children are too busy to play. Yet,I notice that every time a child sees a green patch,he runs, says Jain.
Rang Surang will be held at the Amphitheatre,India Habitat Centre,on July 7. Contact: 24682001