Bridging Nepali and Ecuadorian cultures through plays
KATHMANDU, Feb 24: When given the chance, the youth will come out to showcase the undiscovered talents inside them. Some will even have you taken aback.
Students from Balbyabasayee Kendra Secondary School and Mahendra Bouddha Higher Secondary School got this chance to share their stories and showcase their talents through an intercultural exchange program which involved playwriting and performance workshops.
Organized by B.R.I.D.G.E (Building Relationships and Inspiring Dialogue through Global Exchange) Theatre Project, an international arts organization based in Los Angeles, California, and SPACE (Search for Identity), a local Nepali theatre company, the week-long workshops allowed the young students of 10 to 16 years of age, to write their own plays, perform them as well as perform plays written by students from Ecuador in South America, one of the earlier B.R.I.D.G.E Theatre Project destination.
Students from Balbyabasayee Kendra Secondary School and Mahendra Bouddha Higher Secondary School perform their original plays at Mandala Theatre in Anamnagar on Saturday. (Keshab Thoker/ Republica)
The workshop was facilitated by established actors and writers from Hollywood, Adam Kalersperis, who has appeared in dozens of theatrical performances, TV shows and film including ER and The Dark Knight while and Joe Quintero, who has appeared in films such as Shaft, Exiles in NY and TV shows such as Numbers, NYPD Blue and Law & Order. The co-founders of B.R.I.D.G.E conceived the project in 2009. “Our main goal is to bridge cultural gaps and to allow different young people to see that we’re all more similar than different,” said Adam for whom the project is a way of giving back to the community through acting and teaching. Putting in extra time and energy, the two are juggling their personal careers and this project.
“We’ve been very fortunate and it’s rewarding to be a part of a storytelling team. But what’s more rewarding is to be able to share that with other and what’s even more rewarding is to do that with the youth,” said Joe.
During the workshop, the two interacted with the young participants, asking them personal questions about their values and what was important to them. “We discovered that almost all of the students have great wishes and give importance to education,” shared Adam. “We found that a lot of them were concerned about their family, their economy and financial situation,” added Joe, “This became the seeds of exploration for the plays.”
Both the facilitators were impressed with the students and commented that platforms like SPACE were the way to go when it came to fostering a better arts and theatre scene in Nepal. “We’ve been involved with professional development with the SPACE team and shared our teaching methods so that they will be able to execute similar programs in other schools in Nepal,” shared Joe.
A special presentation of the results from the workshop was showcased at the Mandala Theatre in Anamanagar on Saturday.
Readings of the first acts of eight original student-written plays as well as two plays which were written by students from Ecuador were staged. The plays written by the Nepali students revolved around themes such as untouchability and discrimination against girl child. The plays from Ecuador were staged in a Nepali context and were based on themes such as cultural values and career aspirations of the youth from Ecuador.
“We got a chance to learn a lot about how to write and perform plays,” shared Hima Rai, a ninth grader from Balbyabasayee Kendra Secondary School. “The plays we wrote are about the everyday lives of Nepali people and the stark realities of our society,” she said, adding, “We’re very happy that the plays we’ve written will be taken to other countries.”
“We also got to learn about the culture of Ecuador and are very proud to have performed a play from there,” shared Sagar Kadel, another participant and an eighth grader from Mahendra Bouddha Higher Secondary School.
The Nepali partners of this workshop, SPACE, who found the Project through a Google search and were able to fix this workshop, are arts and theatre passionate who believe in linking arts with development. “We’ve been working with youth from the very beginning because we believe that through arts and theatre, we can transfer and reinforce in them, the societal values that have deteriorated in our country,” said Shree Krishna Thapa, Executive Director of SPACE