What’s so special about a school play? To begin with, The Hummingbird School is located on the largest river island in the world - Majuli. The students at the school are mostly from the local Mising tribal community who have next to no access to mainstream educational opportunities. While they are taught at The Hummingbird School at little or no cost, no effort is spared in ensuring that such an education is on par with the offerings of major schools elsewhere.
Since its reopening in January 2021 (when the state government relaxed its Covid-19 lockdown rules), the school started a theatre-based language learning program for the students of Classes 4 and 5, who will be graduating into middle school in May 2021. These students have been participating in several workshops and learning singing, movement, and acting for the stage. They have also taken part in sessions involving readings of a stage adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s popular tale, The Jungle Book. These workshops were coordinated by Adith AK, who moved to Majuli in 2017 to work with the school children. Before moving to Majuli, Adith has been a storyteller, theatre artist, dancer, and educator.
He was joined in early April by two members from The P[ART]icle Collective - Shruti and Nikita Teresa Sarkar, who are both graduates of the National School of Drama, New Delhi. They bring in technical theatre expertise as well as practical knowledge of executing a stage production. Unless there are any new restrictions as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, this adaptation will be staged on 26 April 2021 at the school premises and will feature as actors the students of the respective classes. (In case we are unable to stage the play on this date, we will aim to stage it at the earliest next date possible.)
This first-of-its-kind production offers The Hummingbird School the opportunity to set up a legacy and put in place the infrastructure for future productions as well. While realising these goals requires a significant investment, the involvement of trained theatre professionals, including the on-site presence of members of The P[ART]icle Collective, has ensured that any equipment or material purchased factors in local resources and affordability. Together, we have taken a well thought-out, optimal approach to setting up and instilling theatre production into the school’s curriculum.
We estimate the total budget for the production, including reusable equipment, at INR 5 lakh, as detailed below.
- Lighting & Sound equipment (reusable): INR 1,50,000
- Stage properties and backgrounds (reusable): INR 1,00,000
- Costumes and Make-up (partly reusable): INR 70,000
- Artists’ fees (one-time): INR 81,000
- Travel, logistics, and food expenses (one-time): INR 75,000
- Documentation (including reusable equipment): INR 25,000
Note 2: The Hummingbird School is associated with the Ayang Trust, a registered NGO. All contributions to the Ayang Trust qualify for tax deductions under Section 80(G), and donors will receive a certificate confirming the same.
About the organisers
The Hummingbird School is a school for the indigenous community of the Mising tribe that resides in Majuli island, Assam. It started functioning in January 2017 with 70 students, and in the current academic year has 250 children enrolled from LKG to Class 7. Out of these, 80 children are fully sponsored residential students and 60 children are sponsored day-scholars. These children are from extremely economically disadvantaged families and many either have no parents or only a single parent.
We believe that a school can be the centre of social change. The Hummingbird School is a learning community comprising the children, the school staff, and the village residents. We all learn with and from each other. At the heart of all of this is our vision to foster self-learning, critical thinking, and compassion in our children.
Ayang means “love” in the language of the Mising tribe; the Ayang Trust endeavours to work towards the transformation of the marginalised communities of Northeast India through the areas of education, healthcare and livelihood. From working along with the community in creating a sustainable eco-tourism project to providing exposure to sustainable menstrual hygiene in women, Ayang envisions co-creating a sustainable future for the communities in the region.
The P[ART]icle Collective is a multidisciplinary organisation that encourages art and artistic performance, particularly endorsing positive social change and values such as sustainability, inclusivity through intersectionality, and mindfulness, through original productions and collaborations with other artists, groups, ventures, and performance spaces. The Collective is geared towards creating experiences that initiate and instigate dialogue, investigate social conditioning and inquire into the politics governing social behaviour and subconscious prejudices.