Communication plays a great role in the VKC programs. In order to build capacity and awareness among different social activists and different stake holders on habitat issues, with specific focus on post disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation, a cultural theatre training program was suggested. This was to be specific training for the partners’ team members into relating to the community using powerful folk media. Theatre and traditional art forms (music, plays and dance) can be a very good communication media.
In view of this, A&D has finally started a theatre workshop for social workers in Pondicherry. This is an in-house program which started on the 23rd February and which will go on till the 9th March, with 26 social activists participating from various neighboring villages of Pondicherry and who are actively involved in Village Knowledge Centres. This
program will train the activists and VKC staff into making use of theatre media to create awareness on habitat issues and other social themes in the villages. This program has been financed by the Foundation of France.
The professional theatre group ‘Kalam’ is responsible for guiding and training these activists in the disciplines like yoga, silambam, thapattam, theatre games, story telling, script writing, voice projection exercise, body-language, discussion on current issues, mask-making and lots more. There are 10 professionals who are training the activists.
The lessons are vibrant and full of rhythm, starting at 5.30am each morning with yoga for one hour followed by another hour of ‘silambam’., before breakfast.( Silambam is a stick fighting, traditional South Indian martial art, which originated in the Kurinji Hills in Kerala, 5000 years ago).
The disciplines vary from day to day with theatre games, story telling, script writing, voice projection exercises, mask masking and even discussion on current issues. After the lunch break, there are lessons in music and training in body language, traditional dances like ‘Theru Koothu’, resembling the famous’ Kathakali’ of Kerala, ‘Thappattam’ dances and even puppet theatre and many other things.... The activists will perform publicly on the last day of the workshop and showcase whatever they have learnt during the course of the workshop.
The objective of this workshop is not only to take theatre to the masses with its creativity and popularity, but to specifically carry a message and sensitize communities on various issues, including habitat, ecology, health and living a rich and wholesome life.