‘ArtWorks! Sangai Khelaun’, Pithauli
Date: 09th February 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: Pithauli, Nawalparasi, Mid-Western Development Region, Nepal
Age Group: 8-10
Srijanalaya worked with Shree Santu Devi Rastriya Primary School in Pithauli, Nawalparasi as one of its partners Art Works! Sangai Khelaun project. We visited the school four times in between December 2016 and April 2017 with different teams and in different numbers to demonstrate the use of arts to teach everyday curricula.
By the end of the trip, we managed to create and put up a children’s theatre production based on indigenous Tharu folk stories. We invited the community and different primary and secondary school to the play. We also exhibited work done by students during the workshops and invited them to look at and reflect on the works of the students.
Pithauli Trip I ( 5 Dec to 7 Dec, 2016 (2073/8/20-22):
During our first trip, eight artists, educators and dancers attended the school for 3 days and worked with teachers and students from ECD to class 5. Five of the team members worked in the school and 3 of them conducted research about the Tharu community, their tradition and folk stories. The team in the classrooms encouraged teachers to attend, observe, and then lead the classes so that they could learn how to incorporate arts in their subjects. The team debriefed with the teachers on a daily basis.
Pithauli,Trip 2 (17 Dec to 21 Dec, 2016 (2073/9/2-6):
During the second trip all team members worked in classrooms with the teachers. Each created lesson plans that integrated different mediums of arts (visual arts, dance, music) with Math, Science, English, Nepali, and Social Studies. We paired facilitators with teachers who connected and met with teachers before classes. We also sat with them individually during lunch time and debriefed about the lessons. We also exhibited the works of students as a final sharing and final debriefing with teachers.
We also had a half day with teachers were they brought their textbooks and asked us what they were unsure about how to teach. We realized that the teachers had difficulty teaching the ‘Creative Arts’ course (visual arts, dance, music, and theatre) as well as subjects such as Math, English, and Science
Pithauli Trip 3 (17 Jan to 21 Jan, 2017 (2073/10/4-8))
The third trip focused on the children theatre production, Budhani, a Tharu folk drama that we were able to put up in collaboration with Actor's Studio. During our first trip, 3 of our team members researched children’s folk stories and Tharu aesthetics and found out that the folk stories in the community were slowly disappearing.
Anup Baral, the director of the play and the founder of Actor's studio then decided to choose the story from a Tharu Story book. The narrative/plot of the drama was built on the premise that there were no stories or storytellers left. The drama began with the search of a storyteller who they eventually find across the Narayani River. The drama was shown for 3 days and the community around Santu Devi and all the surrounding schools were invited.
There were 5 actors, 2 musicians, and a team of 6 visual artists who worked on the props and sets. The musicians came up with the music influenced by the Tharu culture and tradition. Many other people from the community including Santu Devi teacher and students were involved directly or indirectly in the drama.
Different schools, communities, Resource person, DEO and others were invited to the drama. We designed a booklet for the students and teachers which included a brief description about the organization and the drama as well as included activities like questions related to the drama, drawing, origami and mask making activities. We distributed the booklets, biscuits and pencils to the audience at the play.
As schools entered the theatre production in the outdoor space (Pithauli Chaur), we also exhibited the works that we have done with the children in previous workshops with descriptions on a flex. We also included the children’s actual artworks at Santu Devi where people were invited to tour. We were looking to inspire the larger community of schools to incorporate the arts into the classroom.
The Tharu elders in the community said they were familiar with the folk story of Budhani and the children were able to enact the play afterwards, repeating the dialogues and actions! The teachers were very proud of the Tharu origins of the play and the role of a Tharu woman as the lead character. They believed Budhani acted as a positive role model for the children.
Pithauli Trip 4 (9 Feb to 14 Feb, 2017 (2073/10/27- 2073/11/3)
The planning for the new sessions begins from Baishakh in every school. We chose our fourth trip or last trip in Baishakh. We sat with teachers and planned the lessons for the year. We observed the teachers in the classroom, planned lessons together, and discussed on how to improve their, and consequently the children's experience in the classrooms.
Successes of the trip:
- The teachers, students, and community members experienced the process of bringing various art forms into learning spaces. They were able to judge for themselves whether these methods make sense for them.
- We were able to demonstrate a basic respect for Tharu art forms.
- Teachers were interested in the combination of the arts into subjects such as Math, English, and Science.
- Teachers were relieved to be receiving training in the creative arts. Bringing artists and educators as a team to the school led to very important sharing of knowledge and providing support to the teachers.
- The children’s theatre production brought a large involvement from the community in the schools’ activities, as well as created an appreciation for the stories and knowledge that lie in the communities.
ArtWorks! Sangai Khelaun 2016-17 in Pithauli Nawalparasi is an initiative of Srijanalaya and Shikshya Foundation Nepal.