What: The Festival of Drama and Dialogue
@ The School KFI
The Festival of Drama and Dialogue, initiated 18 years ago by the students of Std XII of The School KFI, was born out of a need to interact with students of the same age from other schools in a non-competitive forum. They evolved certain criteria for the plays: an hour long, original or original adaptations, relate to youth realities, and pertain to current social problems.
The Process Behind How We Created Our Play:
We were encouraged to choose our own characters and build them. The plot and the play itself were evolved based on this. As a group we worked on several aspects of theatre and developed the script improvising all the time. This helped us understand ourselves, discover and learn about ourselves and also to learn to work together.
This year, 12 schools - RASA Foundation, PSBB Nungambakkam, PSBB KK Nagar, Good Earth, Vidya Sagar, Chennai H.S School, A.M.M, Olcott Mememorial, Avvai Home, Abacus Montessori, TI Matriculation and The School KFI - participated. The performances were spread over the first two days. Each day, after every three plays, a panel discussion was held, the panel consisting of teachers from different schools and a class XII student of The School. These discussions helped the audience learn how the plays were created and gave them a chance to question participants. Some issues and questions that come up during this discussion were—The way groups and peer exclusions happen in a school context, How drinking leads to ruination of a family, Can change happen in the absence of role models? Why do people get into difficult situations such as anorexia? What makes a child naughty? Too much or too little attention? And similar questions…
The School’s Play:
When Logic Fails…. The theme of the play conceived of and played by the class XI students of The School was based on the following questions. These questions emerged from our experiences, explorations and were facilitated by our teacher, Smt. Sumitra M Gautama.What do you do when you’re bullied and you don’t know why? What do you do when you don’t know what choices to make in life? What do you do, when logic, fails? This is what The School’s play was about. We addressed issues that were larger than our own realities. We explored the working of the corporate world and questioned the use of violence in struggles. Our stories have travelled a long way over the last month. The process behind the play is never complete. Thus our stories will continue to evolve…
The third day was a dialogue session where the relevance of the themes portrayed was discussed. This had two sessions: a panel discussion and an open house on the themes chosen and the connection that they had felt with these. Some other questions raised were —How were the themes that were portrayed in the plays relevant to society? How were the themes relevant to you as individuals? How did your choice of themes affect you? The second session was enriched by the guest speaker Dr. Ambika Kameshwar Founder-Director, RASA who talked about theatre’s connection to life, and conducted many interesting activities with the students.
BOHNISHIKA GHOSH, MUKUND BHARADWAJ and HAMSA NARASIMHAN
Tryst with trees
What: Photo Exhibition
@ Women’s Christian College
‘Incredible diversity’, ‘I have lived here for more than three decade but I never knew these trees existed here’, ‘Chennai should be named garden city’… These were the reactions to a recent photo exhibition in Women’s Christian College to showcase the diversity of trees in the city. Most of the trees and their flowers were absolutely new to most of us. The photos revealed the cultural, historical, sacred and botanical significance of trees.
There was a Peepul tree planted by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on April 14, 1959 at Guindy Park, which exists even today! The rare kadamba flower resembling a tennis ball was one of the ‘favourites’ of visitors. The other favourites were the satin-leaf tree with glossy golden brown leaves (Chrysophyllum sp.), ironwood tree with its attractive mauve-coloured flowers (Memecylon umbellatum), fruit of horse-chestnut tree (Sterculia foetida) swarmed by the reduvid bugs (for WCCites they are ‘hitler bugs’ because of a small black patch resembling Hitler’s Moustache and some mischievous bunch call them ‘bum-chums’ since they move in pairs most of the time with their hind part attached to one another). For each one, something was special. For some it was the ‘Naagalingam Flower’, for others it was ‘bilimbi fruit’, few liked the mangroves, for some others it was the red leaves of lac tree and country almond that gave a magical autumn-effect in Chennai.
The photographs were accompanied by an information chart with the common names in English and Tamil, botanical name, native range, significant notes and the place where they had been photographed. Many students thronged the exhibition with a note pad and a pen and stayed on unmindful of passing time. Thanks to Metro Plus (29.07.2012), which gave details about the exhibition under ‘Art Beat’ – Tryst with Trees’ nature lovers, teachers, photographers, landscape architects, bankers and tree-gazers visited the exhibition. Many guests asked for a meeting with the ‘male photographer’ because of the hard labour involved through extensive and numerous field trips and also photographic skills. This photo exhibition is the fruit of eight years of toil with commitment and dedication by my teacher Ms Pauline Deborah, who carried out an extensive research on trees of Chennai in various niches along with her mentors Prof Narasimhan, Dept of Botany, Madras Christian College and Prof Ridling Waller, Principal, Women’s Christian College.
All the 77 photos were taken by Pauline ma’m, a passion she pursues to create an awareness on Chennai’s trees. ‘Accumulating information and acquiring knowledge through a personal, primary study should always result in disseminating them to a larger audience, especially the younger generation, thus benefitting the society at-large for choosing the right tree species for Chennai, understanding their role in an urban setup and conserving the rare species in the city was the main motive behind this entire learning exercise’ says Ms Pauline. Many even asked what species would work in their home gardens. Overall it was a visual treat, an artistic display and a tremendous off-field learning experience. As a volunteer for this exhibition, I was inspired to evolve a vision that would protect and promote tree-rich sites that would ultimately result in enhancing the urban biodiversity.
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