The Manganiyar Classroom is coming to WOMADelaide in March and we interviewed the director recently.
Some background about the performance:
- Features a theatrically inspired staging where 35 boys aged 8-16, all inheritors of threatened musical traditions – battle hilariously with the rigid conformity demanded of the classroom but where a joyous and exuberant musical celebration triumphs.
- With sublime voices matched by their onstage attitude, the children of The Manganiyar Classroom rebel against their teacher, spontaneously creating beautiful music before your eyes. The result is a joyous theatrical experience that will captivate and delight – but it’s also a stirring protest against the prevailing education system in India.
- The Manganiyar are the Muslim communities in Sindh, Pakistan and in the desert of Rajasthan, India: famous for their classical folk music and are the groups of hereditary professional musicians, whose music has been supported by wealthy landlords and aristocrats for generations.
- The Manganiyar kids stun you with their talent – each of them a repository of song, dance and rhythm. However, at the end of the performance, there is a painful recognition of how they are doomed to be carriers of a tradition, forgotten to be included in the programs of ‘progress’.
- With The Manganiyar Classroom, Roysten is on a mission to raise money and awareness to create a unique, state of the art and alternate educational institution for the children of poor artists.
- “Over the last two years during my interactions with the bright kids I encountered 7 years ago I experience something very shocking. These bright kids had lost all the spark they had and a veil of glumness had descended over their faces. I realized what the education system in the villages was doing to these first generation school goers. It was time for the Manganiyar Classroom. Thank you Gayathri and Bhoomija for co-producing this.” – Roysten Abel
- This he hopes would enable them to have a range of choices from being a world class musician to a nuclear physicist if they wish to. He is already in touch with leading educationists in India to realise this dream and make it a reality.