Project Riḥla: Dialogues for a better tomorrow

The Problem

In today’s world, people young and old are facing a global crisis— what does it mean to belong to a country? Who are we as ‘citizens’? How do we take up space within a nation? The body, where the foundation of identity is embedded in terms of religion, caste, class, age and gender, is not detached from these questions. As we begin to redefine what it means to be a citizen of India, it becomes important to create a space for young people, the ones who occupy the word of present and future to delve into these questions. Spaces of curiosity and critical thought and dialogue, however, are diminishing.

About Aagaaz

 We are Aagaaz, an organisation based on applied theatre practices. We are dedicated to creating inclusive learning spaces that nurture curiosity and critical thought while creating safe spaces for dialogue. Engaging children and young adults across social and geographical boundaries, we question ‘what is’ to probe ‘what could and should be’ to learn ways to act and perform beyond just the stage.

Our processes are driven towards developing a better understanding of the self, the society and the world through theatre. Our approach is to create safe environments to pause and either play (our workshops – Ajab Gajab, Darpan) or watch others play (our Performance Arts programme). 

The shift in emotions, thoughts and actions in these safe spaces transcend into ways of act-ing beyond these safe spaces, in the real world. In Aagaaz, we are supported by our Everyday Practice spaces to hold us as a community as we take this leap of faith.

 

About Project Rihla

 In current times as we navigate a period where what it means to be a citizen is being redefined, we want to anchor conversations with young people around identity, what kind of a world they imagine for tomorrow, and how to make it a reality. What are their stories around belongingness and the world they want to live in?

We have set out to do it with PROJECT RIHLA. 

This project brings together our methodologies of engaging the young, through theatre based workshops and a show. As a part of the project, we are facilitating pre-show and post show dialogue and workshops around identity, belongingness, citizenship, and ‘country’ amongst young audiences. The participants of this workshop will be invited to our shows in November. This journey (Rihla) will be a step in affecting young observers (spectators) and actors (performers), both of which are imperative for a hearty democracy.

Key Features of the Process

 Etymologically drama comes from the Greek word for ‘to do’. Extending it further to how the word is understood at present, drama creates a space for us to think, feel and do. Aagaaz’s applied drama practice creates possibilities of thinking, feeling and taking action even beyond the rehearsal and performance spaces. 

The journey will be structured in a three step format – Tune In, Engagement, Sharing-Reflection-Closure. 

Workshops will be facilitated in 10:1 participants to facilitator ratio. The duration of the workshops will be 120 minutes each. The duration of the show is 70 minutes. 

Tune in

A two hour long workshop in your school/college/community with the purpose of:

Feeling curious about the ideas of a dream country, how it functions, and what it means for you and the people in it.
Wondering what dilemmas hold back the realisation of this dream.
Pick one plan of action to take yourself closer to this dream country.

Engagement

At the centre of it is our next production, ‘Riḥla‘, directed by Neel Chaudhuri. It is an adaptation of ‘I Want A Country’, an open text written by Greek playwright Andreas Flourakis. In Arabic, the word Rihla, has the dual meaning of a journey or voyage but also the written, imaginative account of that journey. A group of young people set off to find a new country for themselves, with new identity and values, a space that makes them feel safe. They argue and fight, they mock and educate each other, they reveal their fears and secrets. The voyage of the characters in our play is into some great unknown – to a place they can only imagine and covering a distance they cannot fully conceive. It is a voyage but also a leap of faith, for them and for us. It is performed by the 11 change makers, the young actors of Aagaaz— the very generation facing the critical questions of the play. 

The participants watch one of the 14 shows of the play in November 2019 at Black Box Okhla. Tickets for students and participants of this workshop will be available at a subsidised cost. 

Sharing-Reflection-Closure

After the participants have watched the show, they will gather for the last workshop of the journey. Another 120 minutes of engagement, the participants will engage with questions and challenges of the country we live in and the role that their identities and those of others  play in the definition of ‘citizenship.

Recognitions

Rihla is being created through a crowdfunding campaign on Ketto. 

It is the first project to be selected by Black Box Okhla under its residency programme. We have the unique opportunity of creating the play for a performance space.

We are privileged to have been selected for the Ranga Shankara Festival 2019 in Bangalore.

Neel Chaudhuri is an award winning playwright and director, who is also one of the founding members of Tadpole Repertory in Delhi.

The project is open to collaborations with institutions and communities. We can create experiences that last between 1 to 3 days for students.

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