manager’s home and chemist. It is a small courtyard with a gutter running
through the middle and a studio at one end. We arrive before 10:30 to find a
core group of children preparing the space. They at first sweep the yard then
lay down straw mats and pieces of carpet to sit on. They attend to the tasks as
if it is a ritual and they take ownership of their space, their arts centre.
We start the class and children continue to stream in. They range from around seven years of
age to may be fourteen or fifteen. Some of the older kids bring along their
younger siblings who they are looking after. On some days we have had up to 60
We tend to start with drama games; the games create laughter and
the ice break, putting everyone at ease. They also help kids cooperate with each
other and create a group.
When working in countries where language is an issue, mime and
movement, is a useful starting point, to focus on simple exercises and a way to
develop the imagination Working in groups, and using their
bodies, they create places and buildings around the town, including local temples, and the neighbourhood well.
At first the children find it very hard to concentrate for more than a couple of minutes at a
time and we have to always find ways to keep them engaged. Many of them, the
boys, in particular find it near impossible to focus. At any opportunity they
try grabbing for things from each other and trying to hit some else. We begin to
understand how hard it must be living on the streets. We feel they want to learn
but it takes both Anne and I with the local translators, to keep them on task
Over the weeks things start to improve. In drama we repeat a number of the movement and mime exercises, and as they feel they are beginning to master what is required they are starting to enjoy the process. In turn when working in groups we notice much more cooperation.
Role play starts with miming the day to day activities we see around their town. The potters at their
wheels, the weavers, the streets sellers the sweeper, farmers picking crops, and
the men and women who carry enormous loads on their backs.
This leads to improvisation between different characters in their community, including food
sellers and customers, students and teachers. They particularly like the school
scenario, with the bad student and angry teacher. They improvise in Nepalese,
and although I do not understand, I can tell they are committed to the scene, as
they are able to create laughter, with their audiences. It is great to see their self-confidence and their confidence in each other grow.