The School-KFI’s Festival of Drama and their Dialogue was a platform for students to present opinions and ideas on issues that matter. SAMVITHA RAM
Last Thursday marked the beginning of a three-day drama festival hosted by The School-KFI, which was attended by12 schools from all over Chennai, with each school putting up one play. In keeping with The School’s philosophy, the programme was a non-competitive space for children in Grade 11 to perform a 30-45 minute drama on social and global issues that were most dear to them. The themes of these plays varied from adolescent issues such as exam-related stress to societal problems such as honour killings to even the bigger global issues like the environment crisis we currently face.
After every three plays, there was a break, during which the students who participated in the plays were invited to sit on stage with a panel of three to four teachers and answer questions as to the ideas, direction, screenplay and execution of their respective dramas.
Many students stated that the topics they chose for their plays were things that they felt strongly about and that they wanted changed by society. One student put this idea in simpler words saying, “These topics may be old and well-discussed, but what we are doing here is making people think.” Another student, who was part of a lively satire depicting a meeting between significant world leaders since the Earth is down to one tree, said, “It’s not that we are taking this issue lightly. If we want to convey the message, then entertainment is the best medium to do so.”
What stood out most, not only to the panel of teachers but also to the audience of students, was the wide diversity in the plays. While some showed a deeper understanding of their topic and chose to respect it by portraying it through a sombre drama, others used the route of using entertaining sound effects and colloquial dialogue to make a parody of their theme, while still managing to spread their message. “There is a certain seriousness to this engagement, but that certainly does not mean that humour isn’t welcome,” said Sumitra, one of the coordinators.
Talking it out
In addition to the array of plays, on the last day all the participants from the schools were expected to attend a dialogue session to discuss their issues in more depth, as well as talk about certain fundamental questions that arose during the duration of the event.
One teacher posed the question of what it meant to work together, especially since some schools had casts as large as 30 students, to which a girl gave this thought-provoking reply, “Even while arguing, we came together because you need to learn to accept other people’s ideas. You can’t keep arguing over the same thing forever. You need to learn to let go of your opinions, and reach a compromise…” a reply that sums up the vision with which the drama festival had been created about 17 years ago.
Samvitha is a Grade XI student at the American International School.
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