27th March 2019 was celebrated as World Theatre Day.
Theatre– a stage where art meets talent from all walks of life–is a place that holds the secret to empowering the underprivileged youth of our society. A secret that the Mumbai-based NGO, Salaam Mumbai Foundation, discovered through its Academy of Arts.
The Academy focuses on using the power of art and theatre to instil in the youth from the lesser-privileged backgrounds a sense of respect for themselves by giving education a chance to improve their life. Bringing art and education together to teach and help them improve their career-prospects, the foundation offers the youth after-school programs for personal and economic empowerment through experiential platforms of learning.
It’s through theatre that these youth not only find a voice to express their innermost feelings about a life that’s far removed from the rest of the privileged world, but also get a chance to develop their talents and improve their career opportunities.
The Academy found how, with the help of art and theatre, the school-dropout rate of these youth could be brought down. it has given them a brilliant opportunity through part-time employment and scholarships to continue with their education and dare to dream for a better future.
The Arts have shown to help students to critique themselves, learn from their mistakes and be open to experimenting.
One of the success stories from the Academy is of Sakshi Kasare, a 16 year old, who lives in a slum in Bandra, Mumbai, with her family of 11 members in a tiny space. She joined the Academy where she transformed from a clueless teenager to a confident performer–a mime artist–who won her first Best Actress Award at the NCPA (National Centre for the Performing Arts).
The news of her wining and her photograph made an appearance in the newspapers, which made her decide that this is what she would like to do in her life–act.
Many students have benefitted from the Academy. They have gained confidence and an increased self-esteem, and learned problem-solving and collaboration that will help them when they step into the world outside.
Recently, the Academy decided to collaborate with the Stanford Talisman–a student cappella group from the world-renowned Stanford University, USA. The concert, titled ‘Circle of Love’, performed multi-lingual compositions interspersed with mime productions by the Salaam Mumbai Foundation’s Academy of Art.
An adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’, the performance brought together on stage privileged students from a world famous university and the underprivileged youth from Mumbai slums, with world-class theatre training. Their love for theatre was what brought about this collaboration.
The students from the university and the youth from Mumbai now look forward to performing in front of an audience from another country to showcase their talent.
The Salaam Mumbai Foundation and similar organisations today strive to create a space for these youth to educate them and help them learn life skills through the performing arts. They believe that these children, who may belong to the lesser-privileged background, do have the potential to make a space and a name for themselves and bring about a change in the social structure of the society they live in.
Sharing here, some snapshots of the beautiful performance by the two groups at NCPA on World Theatre Day.
*Linking the post to the We Are the World Blogfest – #WATWB. A blogfest that shares human news story from around the world that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.