People especially children have a fantastic ability and need to make and play out stories. This process helps to construct ideas, reaffirm stuff we are taught at school, experiment with relationships through the “safe distance” of drama while giving us the power to re-imagine the world and the roles we play in it, as we would like it. Spaces that we play in often direct the theme and nature of our dramatic games. While the games themselves become natural and fun means to make spaces around us come alive.
As cityscapes rapidly change and class dominates how children play in or imagine their world the Ghoomakkad Toli will work with children to create and document their memories of group play. Essentially to make a body of site-specific performance work that acknowledges our physical surroundings and our relationship with these spaces at a particular time in our lives.
Ghoomakkad Toli – A Community Theatre Project at Khirkee Village
Children growing up in a locality create a lot of games, which dramatize our associations with certain physical spaces around us. We make stories around houses that are “haunted”, or turn parts of a local construction site into airplanes to go places, or the paraphernalia of the park turns into houses to play “ghar-ghar.”
The premise for the Ghummakad Toli project is to look at ordinary spaces in the community that take on special meanings for us as children to play out characters through drama to essentially make and tell stories. It aims to structure stories that are already being told and create new ones with the children through a drama workshop that will involve story circles, script-writing and body-work. The stories will then be played as site specific performances.
It has been about 4 weeks since the Ghoomakkad Toli started. In this period we’ve taken walks in Khirkee, played at the park, created a story in the Khirkee Masjid, painted and worked on short skits. The space the children really enjoy working in is the KHOJ Studio!!! Unlike at all the public spaces the studio offers them a sense of “safety” in which they can openly create and play with their stories.
The latest story that we began was in “Pir Baba ka Mandir”, another beautiful monument in Khirkee. All the children are sure that there’s a great big poisonous snake that lives in a crevice amidst the stones and rubble. The story that we started is about the “ajgar” and the many things that happen to him as the years pass by and gradually he is displaced from his home as humans take over his space.
All the members bring different talents into the toli. Some children have grown up playing percussions as part of their family trade, there are others who really enjoy drawing and painting, then there’s some who love to dance and sing. Now the members are comfortable sharing these different skills with each other and interacting with the entire group without the baggage of caste or class as earlier. They’re learning to accept each other’s differences and find common ground where it exists. This perhaps is the most exciting ‘by-product’ of doing theatre with the Khirkee community.