Drama Workshop for Students
How a theatre workshop honed young talent
If we had a similar hunter as in this Chinese folklore drama performed by the students of TVS Schools, perhaps we could have averted the 2004 deadly tsunami that washed away tens of thousands of people. The thought strikes you inadvertently at the end of the gripping drama ‘Nalla Vettaikaran’.
The drama, which depicts activities in a forest, like saving of a bird from hungry foxes and donating of a magical stone that can translate the language of birds and animals, sent out a clear message: ‘We should learn and understand Nature in order to escape its wrath.’
The 45-minute drama ‘Nalla Vettaikaran’ is a Chinese folklore that narrates the story in three minutes. But, the team comprising Thulsidhar Kurup, workshop’s camp director and Raj Kumar, theatre master of TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School, after days of improvisation turned the story into a full-fledged drama that arrested the attention of children with colorful properties, animals, birds and magic. Besides, it also disseminates the message about living in tune with nature.
Thulsidhar Kurup, a student of National School of Drama and Bangalore Theatre Forum, says that when he narrated the verbal folklore immediately children started their scripting work besides penning dialogues and scenes.
The workshop also gave space for children to design their necessary props like dress, birds and animal masks, wings, trees etc.
“Drama is a group art and in acting body is the main communication tool. So the workshop concentrated on scores of activities related to it. We made them to write dialogues and lyrics. It turned to be good literature especially the five songs that were incorporated into the play,” Mr.Kurup says.
The 21-day-workshop gave insight into many aspects of theatre – creating a story, writing dialogues and songs, basics of acting, body language, stage management, voice modulation, eye contact and dialogue delivery besides enhancing their skills in observation, imagination and presentation, says Mr. Rajkumar.
The story moves around the life of a hunter who becomes the saviour of a village. He saves a baby bird, which turns into a beautiful girl with magic of her father – King of Bird kingdom. As a token of love, the king donates a magical stone that helps to understand language of animals and birds. The hunter understands the catastrophe that awaits the village from a chat among a group of birds. As villagers were not ready to believe him, he tells the secret about the magic stone and himself turns into a stone.
Pankaj Saxena, Department of Children Theatre, National School of Drama, New Delhi, the main man behind the workshop says: “It is a good beginning but similar workshop should be conducted at regular intervals introducing drama – a noble medium – to children.”
“Drama is not just what you perform on stage rather it is what that activates your brain and not the heart. It gives you full freedom to think, think, think and perform,” says Mr.Saxena who has been conducting similar workshops throughout the country.
“Children are the same everywhere. Their tradition, language and costume change but not their energy and liveliness. In fact, they are more serious about their work,” he says.
According to Mr. Saxena, this workshop is a first step towards drama. If an actor works for a month he or she could give performance for about an hour.
Referring to performance of ‘Nalla Vettaikaran’ as good, he says that performers lack confidence and patience as this was their first venture.
Though Tamil Nadu has a rich culture and tradition, the State takes the fourth place among Southern states while representing drama. People from Pondicherry represent Tamil drama at NSD than people from Tamil Nadu.
“Southern film industry is lucrative. People move to cinema or television. This makes drama lose its grip in Tamil Nadu, a place that once had a lot of theatres,” he says and adds that “drama is a live medium involving emotions. From mini, micro we have come to sms age but drama needs time. But where do we have it?”
Perhaps, we have to create it as Lakshmi Vidya Sangam has done. The 21-day-worhsop involving 21 students in the age group of 11 to 13 years from TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School and TVS Sundaram Higher Secondary School is certainly an eye opener. Students should be introduced to drama and literature besides activating their grey cells to think.
Lakshmi Vidya Sangam has planned to float ‘LVS Theatre group’ under the guidance of Mr. Rajkumar.