Youngsters are not always fortunate enough to get a chance in life. As kids we all love to sing, dance, play or even do something as artistic as act. But chances to shine in this sphere is the privilege of a chosen few. But for a duo it is now a passion to give those not making it to big stages to perform by way of theatre.
Prashant Nori’s students are like any boisterous lot in school who would run riot in the compound. They would enjoy moments of childhood with gay abandon and make merry. But as soon as the masters turn up they would get back to their attentive best.
Students neatly arrange themselves on wooden benches as Prashant walks in. From acting to writing and production Prashant teaches these kids the varied aspects of theatre. With the zeal to make it big, these kids are picking up fast. Some are original acts which they work on or sometimes they rehash existing stories to give a modern take.
Dramebaaz as it is called happened during a Teach for India initiative which he volunteered for. Students lacking in concentration, naughty and not wanting to sit still made him think of other ways to grab attention. When Prashant started using theatrics as a tool he saw magic happen.
Prashant Nori and friend and co fellow Soumya Kavi gave shape to Dramebaaz.
Now, Dramebaaz is working with 1,500 kids from Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.
It was in December 2015, the group did their inaugural show featuring 15 ten-minute original plays – written and performed by 150 third to fifth standard students from 15 schools in Hyderabad.
Enacted by kids these plays revolved around hard-hitting, complex topics like the hypocrisy of society and intolerance. Some even talking of social and communal harmony.
Like anything there was criticism about it from old school educationists and serious folk, but perceptions changed later in the day.
As time has progressed the team has been joined by national award winning actor Rathna Shekhar Reddy who has committed to reprise his role as coach going forward.
On April 13th, 2016, the Dramebaaz team organized Spotlight at LaMakaan. The show featured six plays, one coordinated by a school outside of the Teach For India network.
Like any venture Dramebaaz has a vision to use theatre to empower 1000 students with the essential life skills in a bid to make them confident and creative.
They’ve also filed to be registered as a non-governmental organization so they can impact children outside of Teach For India schools as well. For the next five to ten years, they will be expanding into new schools and markets.
Prasanth now working for Meghshala as an Implementation and Partner Manager, and Soumya in a Mumbai CSR consulting firm hope to devote themselves to the organization full-time, within two years. But the Dramebaaz revolution goes on.
Both founders, Prasanth and Soumya feel education has to move beyond traditional classroom teaching.
While not every student has the mental makeup of shining in the academic sphere, it is attempts like these which help in helping children go beyond textbooks and hone creative talents to make a mark in life.