The internationally-acclaimed theatre troupe CentreStage Productions initiated a series of volunteer workshops on the issue of ragging and bullying, titled ‘The Power of One’.
The workshops were open to pre-adult students from educational institutions around the island, and were a continuation of the troupe’s ‘Theatre for Social Change’ projects initiated in 2005.
This youth project is also deeply connected to the subject matter and message of the troupe’s main production this year, which is a brand new revised staging of ‘Rag – The Musical’, which made international headlines when last staged in 2012. This is apparent from the very title ‘The Power Of One’, which incidentally is a rousing anthem on unity and positivity in the musical. As the lyrics state,
“When you have to make a stand,
And face and army, face a storm
When one as one we face a thousand
Then you’ll show the power of one!”
The interactive sessions were conducted by Jehan Aloysius - the writer and director of ‘Rag – The Musical’. The workshops were assisted by the cast members of the play, using Jehan’s proprietary system which has been formulated for this purpose. The session was conducted free of charge, and was open to both Colombo and outstation schools that were invited to participate.
The students were also given basic skills training in devising and forum theatre in order to allow them to actively participate in the program. The workshop involved forum theatre, discussion, debate, and performance with each session ending with a debriefing.
The aim of the workshop was to create awareness on the effects of bullying, ragging and educate students on its subsequent legal and moral aspects. The workshop also aimed to create awareness, encourage discussion and find group solutions as possible courses of action when faced with such a situation.
Ragging and ‘Rag – The Musical’ November 2017
‘Ragging’ (or hazing’) refers to the humiliating acts that undergraduates or ‘freshers’ are forced to undergo by their seniors as a form of initiation into an academic institution.
These acts are not innocent fun and games, but have scarred students both physically and emotionally, causing them to drop out or in several cases to commit suicide.
The show also educates students and those in positions of authority on the ills of ragging, and is thus an excellent vehicle for introducing these issues and opening up a forum for discussion.
‘Rag – The Musical’ is a dramatic theatrical production that deals with the topical issue of ragging sensitively and intelligently. The performance has been a crowd-puller in the past, with full houses and standing ovations every night. The show has been featured in the foreign press around the world, as well as by the BBC.
‘Rag – The Musical’ will run for three performances on 2, 4 and 5 November at the Lionel Wendt Theatre, Colombo 7.
According to Jehan Aloysius (composer, writer and director), ‘Rag – The Musical’ does not aim to preach a message or take sides, but rather present both the amusing, non-violent forms of ragging as well as the horror of physical ragging and related violence in a balanced and objective production.
‘Rag’ is, in fact, Jehan Aloysius’s most passionate project, and has been refined and revised by him over 20 years! For him, writing the play was sometimes ‘inspiration’ and sometimes ‘documentation’. He has always been passionate about the issue of youth violence and bullying.
CentreStage Productions and Jehan also express their gratitude for the support of the British Council, Cargills Magic and Unilever who have partnered with us thus far to support the project. The troupe is also looking for other corporate partners and patrons to make this groundbreaking project a success.