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Libraries in Schools
Watching them watching themselves
August 31, 2015
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Eight sessions later, Alia Sinha engineered a miracle with a group ( 42 to be precise) of boys who find themselves in Std. 4 in St. Thomas Boys Primary School and suddenly realise that they are the seniors in a tiny primary school building.  

Alia was assigned a production which she accomplished with characteristic passion, faith and ‘hard core’ thinking. She moved to Aldona for practices, rallied with her Production Assistant Flavia Ferrao Lobo and created a production team that was owned by the students in a very powerful way. 

Alia had her script written long before in her head. She did not know what story and what final performance but she knew that the boys must take responsibility, must own the performance and must sign up for the show on their own – and they did !

As we await Alia’s sharing about the scenes behind the scenes I want to share the joy I had to watch the boys watch themselves. 

Our friend Nalini and John from Communicare Trust offered to film the play for us and I had the joy of taking the film back into the classroom. Much ado later and the threat of a drained laptop battery and a never watched film I had 42 of them settled down to watch themselves. 

As I held the machine that was playing their part, I watched their faces and their expression and I am humbled and proud. That wonderful conflict of feeling that emerges when you know you have made a difference and that the moment is marked. This small production has been so powerful for the boys. They re-enacted every action as they watched, they commented on every entry and exit, there were some who were mouthing the speech lines and others the sounds. They were making eye contact as they recognised who had just brought a prop on stage and who had made that dramatic clapping sound. They knew EVERY nuance of this production and they internalised the story well. It was wonderful to watch the boys in the mirror of their own performance and realise how theatre , performance, autonomy, engagement with a meaningful source text and collaboration can come together. 

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This from a group of boys who can go from calm to chaotic in under 2 seconds and who to the unknowing viewer may appear disturbed, noisy, violent and divisive. For the performance of Mukund and Riaz they were a cohesive team and in the end mirrored the theme of the story on friendship so strongly and well. 

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