Kolahal Theatre Workshop Executive Board:
- Nigel Akkara, President
- Usha John, Secretary
- Sarbani Ghosh Basu, Treasurer
- Jayasree Bhattacharjee, Member
- Prajna Dutta, Member
- Avijit Valmiki, Member
- Avishek Chakraborty, Member
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE BOARD
Kolahal Theatre Workshop is an initiative to spread awareness through theatre and performing arts. This is the brainchild of our Founder-cum- President Nigel Akkara. As NGO, it strives to provide a creative platform to the people belonging to those sections of the society which are less experimented with and are somewhat stigmatized.
We, in Kolahal, strongly believe that every individual, notwithstanding his/her stigma deserves a fair chance to prove himself/herself. That one chance might prove to be a turning point in that person’s life. We have staged several productions in the past three years, with the various stigmatized sections of the society like the members of the LGBTQ community, female sex workers of Kolkata and the drug addicts. The aim of Kolahal has always been to work with such sections of the society who is overlooked and stigmatized by the rest of the society. We have also organized performance on awareness street dramas, undertaken several motivational campaigns and arranged for rehabilitation programs.
Today, India is one of the leading counties in the world and the future looks promising, provided there is equal opportunity for all. It is now time to shed our age-old inhibitions and adopt the motto of inclusion. In Kolahal, our mantra follows that everyone must be treated equally regardless of gender, color, ethnicity, religion or disability; without any privilege, discrimination or bias. We have been relentlessly working towards our goal and will continue to do so in future. We are grateful to all those who have been supporting us in this endeavour.
OUR MISSION FOR THE YEAR 2018-2019
We began the financial year 2018-2019 with the following goals –
- To organize street awareness dramas and arrange workshop in Drama Therapy to train the LGBTQ community.
- To conduct motivational programs and arrange for rehabilitation of LGBTQ community members.
- To organize workshop in Drama therapy and stage a play with the female sex workers of different red-light areas of Kolkata.
OUR ACHIEVEMENTS FOR THE YEAR 2018-2019
PROJECT 1: BISHAKTO PANCHALI (OUR PROJECT WITH THE TRANSGENDERS)
- In the year 2018, we organized several street awareness dramas with the Transgender people. Here it is mention worthy, that on 6thSeptember 2018, the Supreme Court issued its landmark verdict on homosexuality. The court unanimously ruled that section 377 is unconstitutional as it infringed on the fundamental rights of Autonomy, Intimacy and Identity, legalizing homosexuality in India.
- At this very juncture we organized the performance of several street plays by members of LGBT community. We succeeded in involving hundreds of members and some of their highly appreciated street plays include “Troy”, “Briddhashram”, “Soi” and others.
- We began our theater therapy workshop. There were several members of the LGBT community, some were gay, some bisexual and some transgenders. We began to train them through theatre therapy process. However, it is easier said than done. Apart from training them there were several psychological issues to deal with.
- The transgender people were most sensitive to deal with as many of them were undergoing gender change procedures and were under treatment. The workshop was rigorous and took several months of training and hard work in finalizing the casting owing to this transgender issue but finally we decided to provide them the opportunity to portray the gender which they felt from within.
- With several transgender artists in the lead, we staged the play “Bishakto Panchali”, which was the first stage production of Kolahal Theater Workshop. The play was directed by Chiranjib Guha. The performance of the members was their protest against the violence, indignity and insults that they have endured for years. The show was premiered at Tapan Theater on 4th June 2018 and it earned rave reviews from the audience.
- We arranged for rehabilitation of the LGBT community members by offering them a way to earn their living, in association with Kolkata Facilities Management. As NGO, our goal is to create a society free of discrimination.
PROJECT 2: JHORAFULER RUPKATHA (OUR PROJECT WITH THE FEMALE SEX-WORKERS OF REDLIGHT AREAS OF KOLKATA)
- The second venture of Kolahal Theatre Workshop, featuring another stigmatized section of the society, the female sex workers of Kolkata.
- We had to face many obstacles while conceiving the project, initially we were rejected by most of the sex workers and pimps of the areas. Besides that, we had to come up with threats and physical injuries.
- At this juncture, we got in touch with Late Samarjit Jana, the Founder of Durbar Mahila Samanyay Committee, who had been working for the upliftment of the female sex workers, for quite a long time.
- The committee helped us to bring 80 sex workers of different red-light areas of Kolkata, under one roof.
- In association with Durbar, we conducted motivational programs in many red-light areas like Sonagachhi, Kalighat and Bou Bazar where hundreds of sex workers attended these programs
- Firstly, they had lot of inhibitions, diction issues and resistance as it was their first performance on stage but we resolved their issues with each passing day and prepared them for stage performance.
Impact of Theatre Therapy on the Sex Workers
MOTIVATIONAL PROGRAMS OF 2018-2019
We conducted programs in schools, colleges and various institutions and interacted with thousands of students to spread awareness about theatre therapy. We were invited to esteemed institutes like
- Rabindra Bharati University DDE Department of adult and continuing education.
- Institute of Engineering and Management.
- Adamas University.
COMMUNICATIONS FOR PROJECT BISHAKTO PANCHALI
- More than 85 posts across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Media coverage several e-papers.
- A write-up in the esteemed newspaper “The Times of India” (Calcutta Times), titled “A play on gender-based violence”.
- A write-up in the highly esteemed Bengali daily “Ananda Bazar Patrika”
COMMUNICATIONS FOR PROJECT JHORAFULER RUPKATHA
- More than 150 still photographs across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Publicity done through placards, hoardings and flex boards in association with our publicity partner Ad links. Advertisements were placed on roadside, in restaurants, in front of theaters and on the backside of vehicles.
- More than 25 videos and Facebook lives.
- Media coverage in several e-papers.
- Media coverage by esteemed newspapers,”Ei Somoi” (Shikkhito noii, kintu nach, gaan, natok bhalo lagey),” Sangbad Pratidin” (Nigel er hath dhorey rupkathar protyabartan) and “The Times Of India” (Calcutta Times) titled “Where the mind is without fear”.
- Press meet of Jhorafuler Rupkatha was held in the office of Durbar Mahila Smannyay Committee at Sonagchhi, attended by the reporters of various esteemed dailies.
SPONSORS FOR JHORAFULER RUPKATHA
- Ishq 104.8 F.M. (Radio Partner)
- Third Bell (Ticketing partner)
- Nastos (Food partner)
- Kolkata Facilities Managemet (Co-sponsor)
- Moumita’s Dental Clinic (Co-sponsor)
OUR MISSION FOR THE YEAR 2019-2020
- To continue the shows of our play “Jhorafuler Rupkatha” with the sex workers of various red-light areas of Kolkata.
- To organize street awareness dramas regarding social issues.
- To conduct drama therapy in various drug rehabilitation centers of Kolkata and stage a play with the recovering drug addicts
- To organize a road trip to promote drama therapy.
- To hold workshop on self defense
OUR ACHIEVEMENTS FOR THE YEAR 2019-2020
- The year started with the repeat performance of Jhorafuler Rupkatha in various theaters of Kolkata which garnered a positive response and love from the audience.
- Street plays were organized to spread awareness regarding social issues. Some of our appreciated street plays this year includes “Basanta Eshe Gechhe”, “Probahini”, “To Be Continued….”
PROJECT 3: BEWARISH (OUR PROJECT WITH THE DRUG ADDICTS)
- This year we wanted to work with people who indulged themselves in drugs and alcohol.
- Drama therapy is known to be quite effective in such cases as it provides chemically dependent clients with an opportunity to safely practice the behavior necessary for abstinence.
- Workshops were conducted in various drug rehabilitation centers of Kolkata.
- We went to Alyana Rehabilitation Center, which is the home of several recovering drug addicts from all over Kolkata. We started our workshop with more than 90
- We trained them rigorously for more than seven Initially, many were unwilling to attend the workshop, some lacked the ability to focus, some could not even stand straight.
- On 2ndAugust 2019, we staged our third production “Bewarish”. Directed by Abhijit Anukameen and written by Malay Bandopadhyay, the show was premiered at Sarat Sadan, Behala. Conceptualized and presented by Nigel Akkara.
- Recovering drug addicts played the characters of the protagonists. None from the audience could differentiate between a regular performer and an ex-drug addict. This drama was praised highly by both the critics and the audience.
MOTIVATIONAL PROGRAMS OF 2019-2020
Conducted programs in schools, colleges and various institutions and interacted with thousands of students to spread awareness about theatre therapy. We were invited to esteemed institutes like
- Rabindra Bharati University Department of Sociology and Criminology.
- Xavier’s Collegiate School (Bengali Cultural Festival).
- Kazi Nazrul University of Asansol, Department of Applied Psychology. It was a national level meet and was attended by several eminent experts.
- Maya Art Space.
Impact of Theatre Therapy on Drug Addicts
ROAD TRIP TO SIKKIM
In order to promote Theater Therapy and its positive impact on our lives, we had planned to undertake a motorbike trekking trip to North Sikkim. We had planned accordingly to visit several schools and colleges on route to Sikkim.
Our journey started from Chakdah and headed towards Siliguri. We stopped at places like Krishnanagar, Behrampur , Lalgola and Farakka to pursue our mission of spreading Theater Therapy. From Siliguri, we rode to Gangtok and then to Lachen. On our way we interacted with a lot of people, including school students. From Lachen to Gurudongmar lake, the stretch was mainly controlled by different units of Indian Army. On our return journey from Gurudongmar, we reached a local village, where we arranged a workshop for the villagers.
WORKSHOP ON SELF-DEFENSE
The world is changing pretty fast, becoming unpredictable and unsafe. Self-defense training has become mandatory for men and women. At Kolahal, we arranged for an introductory workshop on Filipino Martial Arts, in collaboration with Way of The Warriors. The session was conducted by Guro Prajna Dutta on 29th February. The workshop was attended by student members of Kolahal as well as several outside participants.
OTHER COMMUNICATIONS OF 2019-2020
Mass media and other forms of communication technology have an enormous influence in helping to shape public opinion and underlying sentiment. We, thus try to communicate with our patrons and audience as much as possible.
COMMUNICATIONS FOR PROJECT BEWARISH
- More than 75 still photographs across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- More than 40 videos and Facebook lives.
- Press conference of Bewarish held at the conference hall in the Hotel Innra, in presence of the reporters of various esteemed dailies.
- Media coverage in several e-papers.
- A write-up in Saptahik Bartaman in the section “Sangaskriti”.
- One highlight of this year was the letter we received from Sri Avijit Roy, District President, International Human Rights Council. They appreciated our effort to work with the stigmatized sections of our society. They extended their support and gave us permission to use the name of their organization and their logo for our project Bewarish.
OUR SPONSORS FOR BEWARISH
- Paytm (Ticketing partner)
- Thirdbell (Ticketing Partner)
- In (Ticketing partner)
- DD Hindustan (Narration Partner)
- WARSSI Kolkata (Costume)
- Kolkata Facilities Management (Co-sponsor)
- Kiss Of A Maiden (Co-sponsor)
- Moumita’s Dental Clinic (Co-sponsor)
- Dayco (Co-sponsor)
The Financial year 2020-2021 started on a completely different note; different from what we have ever experienced in our lives. The outbreak of the Pandemic Covid-19, caused by a new virus named Novel Corona virus, had quite effectively brought normal life to a standstill, all across the globe. Several governments all over the world imposed unprecedented lockdown to prevent further spread of Corona virus. The situation was unpredictable and no one knew when the restrictions would be lifted.
OUR MISSION FOR THE YEAR 2020-2021
- To conduct drama therapy workshop for children and young adults with special needs.
- To stage a play with the special children of Mentaid, an association for the development of the mentally handicapped.
- Sanitization service on voluntary basis.
- To organize street drama for Covid awareness.
- To distribute masks and sanitizers.
- To organize a play with the struggling performers with an aim to revive folk art and dance forms of West Bengal.
OUR PROJECT WITH MENTAID
- Mentaid, an organization which is diligently working towards the development of the mentally handicapped. First registered organization of its kind in West Bengal, exclusively organized by the parents of the intellectually disabled.
- Aim was to conduct theatre therapy workshop to encourage emotional and intellectual development, concentration, and creativity.
- 2020 disrupted most of our plans. The Pandemic, lockdown of schools, colleges and offices, social distancing; everything was unexpected and unprecedented.
SANTIZATION SERVICE ON VOLUNTARY BASIS
- Covid-19 Pandemic being an extremely contagious disease and with the number of patients increasing by leaps and bounds, we took up the responsibility of sanitization service on voluntary basis.
- We started our sanitizing movement from Sector I to Sector II within the jurisdiction of ward no. 30 in the city of Bidhan Nagar.
- We sanitized the vehicles used by the police personnel in Narendrapur police station, South 24 Parganas.
- Our initiative to sanitize had also taken us to the premises of Topsia Thana, where we sanitized the East traffic guard area.
- In our sanitization drive, we had covered several quarantine centers and had also sanitized the Ruby General Hospital.
- Organized a street drama called “Go Corona” for Covid awareness in various place making people aware of wearing masks, maintaining social distance, using sanitizers and taking vaccines It garnered a lot of positive response.
- Masks and Sanitizers are the most effective weapons to fight Corona. From Kolahal, we arranged for the distribution of masks and sanitizers, among those people who cannot always afford to buy these items.
PROJECT 4: MUKHOSHTANTRA
- The year ended on a positive note for Kolahal. With the number of Covid cases declining fast, the Government had lifted most of the restrictions. Not ony did we resume our regular classes but also got an invitation from Anubhab Abritti Songostha, Asansol, to stage a play there. We had been wanting to work with the struggling performers and this offer gave us the opportunity to do so. We also wanted to revive the folk art and dance forms of Bengal.
- The rehearsal for the play and the workshop for dance and martial art started side by side. The play was to be directed by Prajna Dutta and it was called “Mukhoshtantra” – a pastiche adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The adaptation was pickled with periodic action scape and multifarious folk forms. On one side, there was the use of Bengali Martial folk forms like Chhau and Raebeshe, while on the other we see the South Indian Martial forms like Kalari and Silambam, pickled with the Filipino art of Kali and the Maori art of Haka. Last but not the least, this play was to mark the return of the eminent actor and social activist, Nigel Akkara on stage, after 7years.
Jhorafuler Rupkatha Part 1
The story narrates the perilous journey of the two central characters in the play, a mother and son Duo, named as ” Ador” & ” Gogol’ , two in cognizable residents of ” Sonar sahor’ , the infamous red light area of the city, and their continuous tryst with life in the midst of their day to day misery, confrontation & existential crisis, where Gogol’s relentless struggle & undying aspiration to be a theatre director, dreaming a liberation from the futile life of the red light area, trying to Decimate his own social identity as a pimp & trying to change the life-scapes of his fellow brothel dwelling women by turning in them as theatre actors from the borne -identity of sex workers. This time too , will Tagore be the catalyst in their Journey ? Will Gogol overcome the relentless opposition and bring the light of liberation into their lives ?
Jhorafuler Rupkatha Part 2
We have conducted workshops in different brothels of Kolkata to develop characters among them. Yes; They are the actors of our upcoming production named , Jhorafuler Rupkatha. Jhorafuler Rupkatha is not only a story about transformation of brothel inmates , who find solace in the characters created by Rabindranath Tagore . Such as “Nandini “from “Raktakorobi”, “Shreemoti” from “Notir puja” and “Ruitan and Hortuni “from Tasher desh. But also interrelates those fictional characters to each others life and how they find Moksha through the journey of these characters. Rabindranath Tagore has always been a catalyst of reform and movements . His works are prevalent in today’s modern world also. In our story , also Tagore is the imbedded catalyst that makes these sex workers travel through their journey of self realization to a point of saturation where their soul overcomes their body.
Bishakto Panchali Part 2
Flamboyant, colourful and eccentric, many among LGBT and marginalised transgender community scrape a living through dancing, singing and begging on the streets of the country’s cities and traffic signals . Many others, though, earn money catering for the sexual needs of local men in the city’s seedier districts. Investigating a never-before-seen side of life in Theater , this theater play by kolahal Theater Workshop who works for the marginalized and stigmatized section of the society , follows the stories of a transgender , who each represent a different way of love . Bhanumati is a local jatra or play actor who acts as a woman in all performance and gradually falls in love with master the Hero of all the play he performed . Actors of this play are majorly transgender , gay , bisexual or lesbian . Tista Das one of the actress who plays the character of a lady , is a renowned transgender of kolkata .
Theater Therapy or drama Therapy has worked wonders in the life of many , it is not only a useful tool for physical well being but it is a mental recharge methodology which unknowingly energizes , boosts and positively reincarnates the mental well being . Theater Therapy by Kolahal Theatre Workshop , a society situated at Kolkata India , Which works for rehabilitating and reforming the stigmatized section of the society , This is a sneek into our third project with the drug Rehabilitation Centers of Kolkata.
Bewarish is a political satire with an underlying comedy pattern. The script is written by Malay Bandhopadhyay and from the beginning of the project, it was Abhijit Anukameen who has conducted the workshops with the recovering addicts and motivated them to be a part of the project.
The Story of Bewarish is set up in a morgue where six unidentified bodies of people belonging to different backgrounds are struggling to get identified and thus attain Moksha after their cremation and how they try to gain the confidence of a thief to accomplish their mission.
Chupchap Charlie is the fifth venture of Kolahal Theatre Workshop. Like our earlier projects, this one too is with one of those sections of the society, which is to a great extent disregarded or neglected. Our current venture is with the Intellectually disabled children and young adults. Officially, the project was announced on 1st April 2022, but the beginning of the project goes a long way back. It was March 2020, when our president Mr Nigel Akkara was invited as the chief guest at the Annual Concert of Mentaid. Seeing these specially talented kids perform in the concert, he wanted to work with them in Kolahal’s next project which was supposed to start from end of March, 2020. However, before any of that could materialize, came the dreaded Pandemic Covid-19 and the world literally came to a standstill. Governments all across the globe, imposed unprecedented lockdown of cities and countries to prevent further spread of Corona virus. All organizations and educational institutions were shut down and continued to remain so for nearly two years. Finally, with the schools and colleges reopening in March 2022,it was time for our long-awaited project to be revived. On 1st April 2022, we had a press announcement at Mentaid. There was a huge gathering of press who covered the entire event and it was in their presence that project “Chup Chap Charlie” was launched. Coincidentally, the next day i.e 2nd April was Autism Awareness Day and several autistic children and young adults of Mentaid put up a performance for those gathered. Professional and eminent celebrities like Nigel Akkara, Devlina Kumar who are associated with the project, were present there. Along with the celebrities, co-director of the play Jahar Das and Director Prajna Dutta also made their presence. The children and young adults of Mentaid were really happy and excited to meet the celebrities. Their genuine happiness was our first reward. This was how, the foundation of our inclusive play, Chup Chap Charlie was laid,with much glory and anticipation.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
On 5th April 2022, with 35 children and young adults, we started our Theater Therapy Workshop, at Mentaid. Special trainers and educators from Kolahal Theatre Workshop started the therapy session with these autistic and intellectually disabled kids and young adults. The first few initial theatre therapy sessions were aimed at getting closer to the participants, knowing them better, understanding their weaknesses and strengths, understanding their strategies for dealing with their issues and making them enjoy the process. Dr Manisha Bhattacharya, a well-known consultant clinical psychology, is associated with Chup Chap Charlie, as the psychological advisor of the project. From day one, we started recording our sessions with these kids, so that we could send her the videos and take her consultations. From the very onset, it was clear to us that in case of this drama, we will follow a reverse course of action. Instead of writing the script first, we had planned to develop the script as we take the children through the Theatre Therapy workshops. In other words, based on their ability to learn, we would design the play and write the script. The first day of our Therapy session went off pretty well as we interacted with the kids and got to know them personally. Some of them had speech problem, some had mobility issue while some had problems understanding instructions. Howsoever, all of them were super enthusiastic and brimming with excitement at the prospect of being able to participate in something new! Their laughter and excitement was contagious and after the first session, we too came back with a lot of hope and positive energy. Though the task was uphill, we knew that together we were surely going to make it.
SYNOPSIS OF CHUP CHAP CHARLIE
The play Chupchap Charlie is an amalgamation of nine rasas through the journey of celebration of life on stage. It is a romantic tragedy with a mixture of fantasy and reality through the eyes of pivotal characters of the play namely Morol, Khurima, Rai, Mohan, Munish, Aghori Dasarath & Charlie. In Chupchap Charlie, Charlie is a polymorphous (bahurupi) who is the only witness to everything that is happening around but believes that actions speaks louder than words. Chupchap Charlie is a musical treat with a high voltage Vfx background projection. Folk art forms like Kathakali and Chhau has a great relevance in this play. The play aims at inclusion of children and young adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities in main stream professional theatre where they will be performing alongside professional performers.
STAGE CREW AND CAST
Concept: Nigel Akkara
Directed by: Nigel Akkara & Jahar Das
Script: Sarbani Ghosh Basu
Script Asst: Ipsita Mukherjee
Presented by: Kolahal Theatre Workshop
Designed by : Kingshuk Acharyya
Costume Designed: Piyal Banerjee & Romoni’s Rita Roy
Music Director Prajna Dutta
Stage Lighting: Soumen Chakraborty
Sound: Sapan Bandyopadhyay
Stage and Set Designing: Ambaris Das
Projection: Biswajit Das
Make up: SK Ibrahim
Publicity and PR: Deboshree Chatterjee (Rhythm Entertainment)
Psychological Advisor: Dr. Manisha Bhattacharya
Vocals: Autistic and Intellectually Disabled Children and Young adults, Iman Chakraborty, Durnibar Saha, Timir Biswas, Shovan Ganguly, Sayani Palit, Prajna Dutta, B.D Sharma,
Subodh Sarkar, Bratati Bandyopadhyay, Nigel Akkara, Nandini Bhowmick, Jayasree Bhattacharya, Rajeev Chatterjee
Artists: Devlina Kumar, Om Sahani, Nigel Akkara, Debolina Dutta, Autistic and Intellectually Disabled Children and Young adults, Actors of Kolahal Theatre Workshop, Chhau
Dance team of Purulia and Kathakali (Dibyendu Tarafder)