The following text is a personal experience shared by Ganesh Naidu, a student from Abhyudaya Nagar School and a participant of the Staging Changes program. The program was a partnership between the students of The American School of Bombay and The Akanksha Foundation. The theme of the program was Culture and Identity and the participants put up a verbatim performance which investigated personal narratives and explorations of identity. It was devised through a process of building a collaborative ‘company of theatre-makers’ and performed in the form of a dance and movement.
The time spent at the American school of Bombay was a joyful experience. It was an experience driven by learning and discovery. The sessions we had at ASB taught me how to self-reflect and enabled me to understand my self at a deeper level.
Initially, I found it very difficult to be an inclusive part of the program. It always kept playing on my mind that my friends from ASB are far better than me!! They wore branded clothes, used the latest gadgets and even had an accent when they spoke. But in one of the sessions, Mr Thorburn (Director of the play) and Anchal Didi (member of Alumni Support Team at Akanksha) spoke to us about the need to focus on our similarities rather than differences. This session was quite a revelation and it helped me immensely to create a comfortable space for me as well as my friends. I also learnt a lot of leadership skills in the global leadership class. Actually, for me, every day at ASB was a special moment as we had a lot of fun while learning verbatim theatre with Mr Thorburn and the ASB kids.
The program also taught me the importance of someone’s time and efforts. It pushed me to be an attentive listener most importantly made me a punctual being. The program empowered me to be grateful for whatever I had. The entire experience has brought an immense change in my outlook towards a lot of things. I also realised I wasn’t helping my family at all and would rather be doing my own work all the time.
I was very nervous before my first performance. Mostly because of the audience. Everyone was of my age and I feared I would forget my lines. But I also knew that I had worked very hard with the team and I had to give my best.
I wanted my family to come to see my performance but they couldn’t. However, it was one of the most beautiful moments when Chitra Didi, my School leader came to see my performance. She was very happy and proud to see us perform and told us how amazing our performance was. She loved the way we delivered our dialogues as well as our acting and dancing.
The script for the performance was inspired by true stories. These stories belonged to each and every participant of the program. The most challenging part was to feel the essence of the story and express it in the way that everyone could relate to.
In the beginning, all of us thought that we were only here to learn a few things, put up a performance and the program would come to an end. But after three months, we were all in tears after the final performance. We didn’t want it to end. I made a lot of friends during the program and I am happy that I am still in touch with them.
I feel I am blessed to get an opportunity like this one!
All thanks to The Akanksha Foundation.