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Ghumakkad Toli

Ghumakkad Toli was a community art project that looked at ordinary spaces within the city that embody specialised meanings and associations for the child within us. The project played out these scenarios through drama and characterisation.

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About this programme

People, especially children, have a fantastic ability and desire to create and play out stories. This process helps to construct ideas, reaffirm lessons we are taught and experiment with relationships through the ‘safe distance’ of drama and theatre. The beauty of this distance bestows on the performer the ability to re-imagine the world and the roles we play in it, on our own terms. The spaces that we play in often dictate the theme and nature of our dramatic games; the games themselves, while being a natural process of generating enjoyment and fun, also serve as a way to activate these spaces and allow them to come alive.

As cityscapes rapidly change and class dominates how children play in or imagine their world, Ghumakkad Toli will work with children in the Khirkee Village to create and document their memories of group play. The aim of the project is to produce a body of site-specific performance work, that acknowledges our physical surroundings and our relationship with these spaces at a particular time in our lives.

As children, we create various games which dramatise our associations with physical spaces around us. We make stories around houses that are ‘haunted,’ turn parts of construction sites into airplanes which take us away, and parks in turn become houses where one can play ‘ghar-ghar.’

Ghumakkad Toli aims to structure stories that are already being told and create new ones with the children through a drama workshop that will involve story circles, script-writing, and body-work. The stories will then be played as site specific performances.
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Over the course of this programme, we’ve taken walks in Khirkee, played at the park, created a story in the Khirkee Masjid, painted, and worked on short skits. The space the children really enjoy working in is the KHOJ Studio. Unlike all the public spaces the studio offers them a sense of safety in which they can openly create and play with their stories.

The latest story that we began was in Pir Baba ka Mandir, another beautiful monument in Khirkee. The children are sure that there’s a great big poisonous snake that lives in a crevice amidst the stones and rubble. The story that we started is about the ajgar and the many things that happen to him as the years pass by: gradually he is displaced from his home as humans take over his space.

All members bring different talents into the Toli; some children have grown up playing percussion as part of their family trade, others enjoy drawing and painting and there are some who love to dance and sing. Now the members are comfortable sharing these different skills with each other and interacting with the entire group without the baggage of caste or class as earlier; they are learning to accept each other’s differences and find common ground where it exists. This is perhaps the most exciting by-product of the theatre workshops with the Khirkee community.

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