Written by Alia
As the country accelerates towards an unquestioning plunge into Development, as books and book-shops are driven to extinction by their glossy digital counterparts, as “things fall apart” we find ourselves afraid. Waiting to see the storm of the digital era through- and hoping we’ll still be relevant on the other side.
Library spaces tend, inevitably to be associated with silence. Quietude. A tomb-like nursing home for books, as they wait to crumble to dust unread.
Imagine a quiet, grim space filled with books you avoid. Everything is colourless, or at least coloured in twenty-three shades of gray. The books have obscure titles and hard, blank covers. There is silence. People lurk in dark corners, as if with sinister intent, as does the inscrutable Librarian. At least, this was my idea of a library before I had the unexpected glory of working as a Librarian-esque character in Bookworm’s half-red house.
Now, everything is different.
The vision, you see, is for the Library to be a living place. A thinking place. A place where the assorted flotsam of humanity can come together as a self-aware, vibrant community to celebrate books, arts and culture.
You scoff, perhaps, at this point. Clear your throat, ask “Really?” with that ironic inflection implying this is not worth your time.
Simply put, you take the spirit of the Library out, and bring people in. Here are two examples of what we did.
An Evening of Theatre
What happens when you apply the concept of a “flash mob” to doing theatre with unexpected people, at a small cafe in Caranzalem?
Only happy pandemonium!
‘An Evening of Theatre Games’, was conceived in a conversation between Bookworm’s Development Manager, Niju, myself, and our honorary worm Trishala. It ended in a flurry of excitement, a black-and-white poster, and a bemused and cooperative Cafe Basil folk (shout-out here to Nikhil, Sahil and co. for lending us their space).
Organized in the space of twenty four hours, we still had twenty-odd youth come for this session of community theatre. They happily acceded to the absurdity of it all. We formed “statues in a dark room”, played “Whoosh, Whoa, Whee”, created emotions through still-pictures, looked at the most basic aspects of story-telling, through the body. Most importantly, we celebrated the spirit of playfulness, in the name of the Library.
I Am Slam
Starting in September, Bookworm has been involved in celebrating the nascent art of performance poetry. The title derives from the idea of “Slam Poetry”, and slyly references Dr. Seuss. (we’re a library for all ages, remember?)
We held two workshops, and hope to have many more. These workshops inevitably drew in a mixed crowd of poetry-lovers: from students to retired marine engineers, to film-makers and sociologists, to teachers and writers. Together this group read classic poets, explored different artists and poetic movements, played percussion instruments, danced together, and wrote and performed our own poetry in groups.
A fertile space for discussion and debate, for rhythm and rhyme, for celebrating the power of the spoken word- the library thus, reclaims poetry and assert its awesomeness.
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Now, what do you say to that, oh, hypothetical cynical reader? Me? I’d say the Library Lives!