Learning basics and a lot more with novel ‘Eco-Theatre’ camp
On the banks of the gurgling river Kalindi, surrounded by lush green patches of the Begur forest, a group of children learned their first steps of performance and expressed themselves through a novel concept called “Eco-Theatre”—a pioneering initiative in the State.
The five day multi-cultural and multi-lingual performance workshop, organised jointly by the Balasabha of the Kudumbashree Mission, Wayanad, and Hume Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology, has turned out to be an unforgettable experience for 68 children from the hill district, including 25 kids from tribal communities.
The residential programme, titled Tierra (theatre in Greek), was mainly focused on understanding the current issues being faced by Wayanad such as climate change, urbanisation and land fragmentation, nature conservation and human-animal relationship, said C. K. Vishnudas, Director of Hume Centre. “It (the programme) also discussed how a multi-cultural lens sees and understands issues and different relationships that emerged over the years”, he added.
During the five days, children themselves conceived, designed and performed five different themes such as post-disaster community life, human-animal relationship of tribespeople, man-made pollution in water bodies, forest restoration and deforestation during the British era.
One of the key features of the eco-theatre experiment was that the participants had to identify suitable locations such as forests, riverbanks, rocks, wetland and village settings for their performance; they had to recreate various habitats where the audience were taken to experience the performance.
“By using a devising performance methodology, the participants have gone through constructive knowledge creation and they showcased it from their own experiences. The site-specific feature of the programme made them feel about their own land in a new perspective,“ said Devendranath Sankaranarayanan, the programme director, a theatre researcher and performing artist.
The participants also interacted with resource persons from various fields including Sukumaran Chaligadha, a poet and member of the Kerala Sahitya Academy; Binu Kiduchilan, an actor and musician; N. Badusha and M. Gangadharan, environmentalists. They also handled different sessions in the workshop.