When I first came to SBT, I had learnt that the performing and creative arts was significant in the organisation. Many of the children were involved in the annual play production, and also pursued careers as artists, dancers even production directors later on in life. I had wondered why the creative arts was so prominent in SBT, and thought it might have been due to influences from its Trustees such as Sanjay Roy, the man behind Jaipur Literature Festival, Anubhav Nath, director of Ojas Art, and of course, Mira Nair, world-renowned film maker and daughter of Praveen Nair, Founder of SBT. It was only a few weeks later after a casual chat with Gaurav* and Arjun*, two SBT graduates, that I realised the creative arts was not just an extracurricular hobby for SBT children.
It was so much more.
“The creative arts improves your confidence, your social skills and your English. It is also a discovery of yourself. You find out things you did not know you could do. You learn more about yourself in this process.” quoted from Gaurav*
Gaurav* explains that in the annual play production, and the performance opportunities at SBT, the children are given a chance to play different roles and adopt different identities. They learn about the behaviours, attitudes and world views of the different characters they try to play. In this process, they find qualities and behavioural traits they wish to adopt, and slowly begin to shape a new identity for themselves. Gaurav* and Arjun* shared that their friends who were shy became more confident through the performing arts and saw it as a way of expressing themselves through characters.
It was a thought-provoking conversation that made me realise just how holistic the creative and performing arts was. To quote from an article after becoming curious about the connection between self-discovery and the performing arts:
“We say that the body does not lie, so if you know how to observe and work with bodies you can discover things that words do not reveal…the story arises from within the body and when you place a new story upon a body, it leads to change.” (from ABC Net)
Not only was dance, arts and theater a way of self-expression, a catharsis of the thoughts and feelings they keep within themselves. It taught them how to work cooperatively with others, and to fulfil the responsibility and role they were given. It opened them to new experiences, to new ways that brought them somewhere they didn’t realise they would be. Dance, arts and theaters was like a realm that allowed them to explore the possibilities – more importantly, anything was possible.
Every year, SBT has an annual play production on an array of themes related to street children and their lived experiences. Two years ago, their play “Anokha Safar” was about the story of three children in a time machine, reflecting upon the changes in the landscape of Indian society. Last year, their play was called “Sheroes”, the female heroes of society. All of the actors/actresses, dancers and production directors in the play are former and current SBT children. As for what it will be about this year, come to Delhi in November to watch it and find out yourself!
Words by Loritta