The Experimental Theater Foundation

Theatre Creating Environmental Awareness

Experimental Theatre Foundation is the brainchild of theatre person Manjul Bharadwaj and a team of social activists. The philosophy behind ETF is that art cannot exist outside the context of society and hence has a responsibility towards society. The Experimental Theatre Foundation has staged more than 25 plays on over 15,000 occasions. In addition there have been street plays. What marks the efforts of The Experimental Theatre Foundation from what other NGOs are doing is the strategy it has adopted – a mix of theatre and social activism. It devises plays and theatre activities to make its street – corner audience thinks and once they are ready for change supports it with resources. .

The audience for street theatre is the common citizen -- passers-by, commuters, middle class workers, slum dwellers, beggars, villagers, city-folk, but industrialists, the ruling class and the elite are not excluded.

The street play has its inherent challenges -- to portray various problems accurately, an in-depth study is required to lend the play a certain gravity and intensity. At the same time there should be no sermonizing.

Manjul firmly believes in the practice of theatre of relevance, using drama to bring about social change. The little actors he coaches are not doing plays removed from their existence; they are in fact living their real lives in front of their audience. And this process, says Manjul will help them fight their own circumstances.Slowly but surely it is getting the children of the slums back into schools and making a qualitative change in the lives of communities, consisting largely of immigrants.

What is truly remarkable about the children in Experimental Theatre Foundation’s theatre project is the immense confidence with which they carry with themselves. Many of them come from severely impoverished or uprooted migrant homes and orthodox families. But their contact with theatre has given them that all – important sense of self worth one rarely gets to see in such children elsewhere.

"I don’t care how big the person across me is. I talk fearlessly now. I can handle any situation and this is a courage that Experimental Theatre Foundation has given me,” -MadanAtmaram sable, child migrant worker

"I learnt to modulate my voice, learn my lines, scream, laugh. I must have done 700 shows of Mera Bachpan by now," he says. " And with each show I have grown confident about dealing with people and situations. I always speak out when I see some injustice being done now." Naresh Kanti Chauhan, child factory worker

"To see big people applaud when I act is a great feeling. I realise that I am no less then them, “ says 12 year –old Nitesh Kamble.

The difference that education has brought to the children’s life is so remarkable that it has reversed a cardinal principal – parents now want to be like their children.

" I want to educate my children. I want to be like them – strong and confident," says Mangal Chauhan of Gautam Nagar.

The Experimental Theatre Foundation is now interacting with about 600 slum children of whom about 60 are core members. These children who have been part of and observant of Experimental Theatre Foundation ‘s activities feel that life in their slum communities have improved over their mothers keeping tabs on drunkenness in the family.

Click here for reading a play staged by the children on environment degradation, as seen and felt by 'Birds'-The play is titled 'B-7'.

The play B-7 depicts the story of 7 birds that are facing a threat for their survival. The play starts with the birds discussing about their problems like fresh air, food, shelter, forest, and i.e. about everything to preserve their natural habitat. The birds decide to form a fact-finding committee to list out the threats to their survival. This way they enter in the human world and expose the reality of today’s world - how children are being deprived of their childhood and how globalization is affecting the children in the world. In the end the birds' committee suggest ways to save childhood and humanity.

The play is written and directed by Manjul Bharadwaj. The associate director is Mr. Rajkumar Kamble. He has designed and prepared the mask of birds.

Seven Children performed as 7 birds in the play. The casts include 7 children, Ranjit Motiram Wakde, Naresh Kantilal Chauhan, Nitesh Vasant Kamble, Madan Atmaram Sable, Manjula Manohar Lokhande, Sheetal Devidas Rathore, Jyoti Rajkumar Pardeshi. The children belongs to the slum community of Guatam Nagar, Charkop, Kandivali (W) Mumbai. They were earlier child labourers and due to Experimental Theatre Foundation’s intervention through theatre they left labour and are now going to BMC Schools for formal education.

In addition to performances in Mumbai, B-7 has successfully performed 15 times in Germany.

The Experimental Theatre Foundation
8/17, Shriram Nivas
Adarsh Lane Khar (East)
Mumbai: - 400 051 India
Tel - 022- 8687552

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