Mr. Raju, of Petra Park apartments, was on the lookout for a workshop for the children of his apartment complex. He happened to watch Vision 2020 at Christ College and then knew he didn’t have to look far to find the people for the job.
So Arif and I found us in a small chapel-converted-to-an-auditorium with 15 screaming kids, and I am happy to say, in a familiar and comfortable situation. Quantas of energy were flying around the room, and it took exercises like cartwheels and somersaults to calm those bolts of energy. Some fun games later, we arrived at the question of the play that we would present at the end of the weeklong workshop. I asked a question – “If you were a tree, what tree would you be and where would you live?” Answers came flying thick and fast, “an apple tree in Jammu”, “a redwood in California”, “a pine tree in the Himalayas” and the punch line – “ a mango tree in Petra Park” and a quick riposte “Hey, there are no more trees in Petra Park, certainly no more in Bangalore.” I then knew which play we just had to do.
We chose The Lorax, Dr. Seuss’s rhyme filled with utterly nonsensical words, but superbly sensible message about saving the trees. We read the play, but decided that the ideas had to come from the children. Therefore we made them create Tableaus – still pictures. The topics were simple in the beginning, like “standing in the rain”. They got the hang of it and the topics got tougher. Topics became, A Ferrari car, Stuck in a Lift, At the Dentist and Any topic of your choice. The results were astounding. They had no problems handling the topics, and were often more creative than so called “mature” adults. The tableaus gave us the key to creating the play.
The play was then divided into twenty scenes, each scene starting with a still picture. Every single boy and girl played the lead role in the play. At times the whole group would be a tree, or a shop or a telephone. There was the energy of group work. The children had a blast.
Saturday morning show time arrived with curious parents wondering what their children would do. By the end of the show they had no doubts whatsoever. The group, they called themselves Star Sixteen, came out in flying colors. The play was thoroughly professional and tight and all, the kids did a serious job of it. The parents went home with their shoulders a little straighter, and the children walked ten feet tall. As for Arif and I, well, we just shrugged our shoulders and spake the truth – “We always knew that they would be great…”