Bhagirathy is a freelance Consultant with Happy Cow. She is an extremely bad bathroom singer, two left legged ballroom dancer and a wall-less muralist. She wants to feature on the cover of a magazine by 40 years of age failing which she plans to build a tree house deep inside the forests of Bangalla in the hope of becoming The Phantom’s wife.
I was trekking in Uttarakhand when I got a text from John, “Hey I am booking your tickets to Andaman. A 6 day Leadership through theatre workshop”. I sent an excited “Yay” and promptly went out of signal. Few number of calls, texts and meetings later, I was walking into Chennai Airport to meet the bunch who were supposed to be my students and partners in crime for the next few weeks.
We had the icebreaker session right at the Airport, much to the chagrin of the security. Who would like some odd 15 year olds making that much noise right at the centre of a busy airport terminal?? Anyway. A theatre kit was distributed which had a mask template and I announced a competition to come up with the best mask possible.
We reached Port Blair and were immediately whisked off to Ross Island. The sound and light show was spectacular. Then it was the kids turn to come up with spectacular stories as a team. Many animals, zombies and Cinderellas later, they were divided into groups. They had to come up with plays taking a memory from the trip. What ensued was hilarious fun with kids following me everywhere showing their play and asking to improve it. Be it the dinner table, my room, ferry to the next island or walking along the beach.
The masks were coming along fine. So, of course I added a twist to come up with a Character sheet for their masks. After frantic corrections and redoing the masks, three victors emerged with lovely masks and characters. The seven plays that the kids put together had us all in splits. Stories ranged from talking to a moth to playing antakshari to caricaturing me. Yes!
If you had seen a group of 15 year olds randomly standing in a circle and doing activities, which made no sense to you all over Andaman and Nicobar, it was just us. All the beaches and boats were witness to it. All the questions ranging from “How does this activity teach me leadership?” to “Do you think I can address this character of mine through theatre?” were answered over the trip.
Random story telling sessions, interesting activities when the kids got bored, discussing obscure books, jumping into the sea together and marvelling at the corals and fish. Every memory will be treasured much like each kid who joined me in this trip. Yet another favourite batch of kids who I will miss a lot.
When a kid who answered a question with a “Oh I am a fully functional adult. I can make my own decisions on Day 1” looked at me and said “You had us all behaving like 5 year olds and really like it” on the last day, I knew that the project was a wonderful success.