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Letter from Fr. Francis Peter S.J.

The ‘trans creation’ of Tagore’s famed Kabuliwala staged by you yesterday is no cotton candy; it is a beating heart that laid bare in 90 minutes,a long, arduous preparation in a burst of songs, tableaux with such realistic props, dances in period costumes and dialogues in multiple languages.

The performance enthralls the audience with a strong message of hope, of harmony, a vision of the possible -of a ‘world without walls’at a time when there is no peace in the world, and hatred mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men! The play captures the underlying deep spirituality, the common sacred core enshrined by the different religions. Yes another world is possible, is the message the packed audience take home.

The haunting Afghani melody, the lingering fragrance of saffron and the dry fruits, the near natural Kali procession, the symbolic depth of meaning of the ‘namaaz’ so well enacted, the booming laughter, a deep bonding that transcends age, culture, religion and space convey a message so deep and lasting that no length of moral science class could ever hope to achieve.

On another count the performance is a testimony to participated learning. The take home for the 176 children and their teachers is a deep learning experience – one that is guaranteed to remain etched in the students’ memories all their living days. In the process of presenting Kabuliwala, they have learnt literature, history, geography, spiritual values, cooperation, and team work; they learnt histrionics, declamation, handicraft, singing, memorising and what have you!It’s heart-warming to learn that the script was authored by the students themselves. A proof of the pudding is the final act where, the once adamant mother inspired by the large heartedness of her husband, willingly parts with her bangles – a scene I don’t recall from Gurudev’s original- left no dry eye among the spectators! The drama troupe must have collectively doubted, debated, delved into details, reflected, searched and sweated before deciding on ‘trans creating’ the Bard of Bengal’s original.This learning outcome would be the bedrock of their further search. This indeed suchengagement behaviour that has been shown to lead to higher levels of personal development and learning.

On the flipside, the otherwise impeccable voice over adopted a ‘ drama tone’ a drag the was once deemed necessary at public performance; however with today’s acoustics the unnatural cluttering the staccato cadence and drag of the dialogue the unfolding of the drama appears, to say the least a bit unnatural and harsh.  The unfolding of the story had been sacrificed at the altar of the musical, the emotional bonding and transformation appeared a bit hurried but then how much can one really do in barely 90 minutes?

One more thing that strikes the reader is that the flyer carries no names of the persons behind the scenes, not a mention of the director, choreographer, and music director, no not one of the elders, its students and only students all the way – a learner centric, learner first enterprise indeed.

In fine, you benchmark true learning and schooling, you don’t need to be benchmarked.  Kudos Loyola -staff, students and management.

Francis Peter S.J.