Education philosopher Maxine Greene affirms the power of arts and aesthetic education “for a more informed and imaginative awareness” to create “critical transactions that empower students to resist both elitism and objectivism, that allow them to read and to name, to write and to rewrite their own lived worlds”.
While all of Aagaaz’s work has the belief in the power of the processes of arts and aesthetics as its core, Ajab Gajab is the spine of the practice that supports this belief. The arts, and in our case more specifically theatre, opens windows into complex and layered realities that can otherwise be challenging to address or express, creating opportunities to think critically, celebrate differences, take risks and seek justice not only for ourselves but for others who are perhaps more challenged.
Long-term Community Based Engagements
With a commitment to our ground-up approach, we have now reflected and created a framework that can support these new long-term journeys. Through Critical and Creative Engagement in our pedagogical approaches as well approach to challenges, we aim to co-create spaces participants, families as well as educational institutions as collective stakeholders. The dream is that this process-based approach will affect shifts in the next many years.
These are sessions with groups of students that can last for a duration of anywhere between 10 days to a year. These are not begun with a decision of long-term engagement. Theatre making and sharing it with an audience while engaging with certain thematic concern with students is almost always the core focus of this work. Here, drama becomes the engagement, the exploration and the expression.
The Drama Jams
The Sunday Drama Jams are a weekly free-peer sharing space for anyone who likes to play drama games or works with people using drama. The attempt is to innovate new possibilities of play and to create a space that runs organically without a meta-facilitator, curated in-the-moment by only the people in the room.
Our productions co-created by the repertory and playwrights/directors from the city, raise questions that urge audiences to engage in dialogues with contemporary issues.
Our performances have played in more than 12 cities in schools, theatre festivals, and other public spaces across India. We believe that in the process of ACTing, both the performer, by being witnessed, and the audience, by witnessing, is transformed.
Our repertory members have all emerged from the first phase of community initiative in Nizamuddin. They are supported in developing their creative practice by a group of 4 respected artist-mentors.
Consistent Creative Practice
Aagaaz’s repertory meets and works regularly. Our engagement with each other is much beyond the rigour of the rehearsal and performance periods. As people who perform stories, we consistently engage questions like - “why do we tell stories?”, “what stories do we want to tell?”, “how do we (our identities) affect the stories that we tell?”, “for whom are we performing these stories and how does it affect our story?”.
Also, beyond the politics of the art form, we consistently immerse ourselves in the rigour of the skills required to create theatre productions.