CHENNAI: Arts have, for decades and centuries, proved their worth beyond entertainment. For some, it is therapy, for some, a skill, and for students at the Ramana Sunritya Aalaya (RASA), it’s empowerment. Established 33 years ago — and coming up on their anniversary in September— RASA is an NGO that uses theatre arts to empower children and young adults with disabilities (also offering programmes to regular needs children). “We conduct various programmes for training differently-abled children in performing arts as well as cultural events where the differently-abled can perform.
RASA reaches out through cultural activities and training, and our vision is geared towards fostering oneness through the experience of Indian theatre arts. All our activities are geared towards this goal,” explains Ambika Kameshwar, founder-director, RASA. Continuing this love for drama on their upcoming anniversary (also referred to as RASA Day), the students will be showcasing their performances on August 25, in a show that will feature 200-plus people with differing abilities.
The show is hosted with the intention of bringing all their outreach programmes and centres on stage. To accommodate everyone, they will have seven segments that will eventually come together as one big presentation or the eighth segment. “This time, we have chosen stories of people who have made sacrifices for the highest good of the world. We have called it Nanmaikkaga (giving up some aspect of one’s self in order to benefit the world),” Ambika explains. She encourages people to come and watch the show, and hopes they return with new perspectives. “I hope the audience takes back joy, peace, oneness, an understanding of diversity and being unified as one within a space of diverse ability. I would also like them to internalise the theme that is being presented as we have worked hard to make it to the core…I would like everyone to love the various elements and go back a larger, better individual than we were when we entered the show,” she adds.
Healing through art
Where watching a show can teach you a lot, performing in it is no less rewarding, it seems. Speaking of the cultural training of the students at RASA, Ambika assures that it is done through outreach programmes, performance training and other activities based on the knowledge that arts, drama, and storytelling can deeply impact development and facilitate one to a large extent. “The theatre arts amenable an individual to express their innermost feelings. They provide an opportunity for complete selfdevelopment by not only giving hope for exploring one’s potential but also providing a forum for sharing it. The theatre arts have their therapeutic value in area such as strengthening communication skills, improving physical/cognitive skills and building social awareness,”she says.
Dance and movement, she says, provide one of the most personal/effective means of communication and provides the structure to understand one’s body. Music facilitates mental, physical and emotional well being. Arts/crafts are used as a developmental tool to express the feelings through a variety of art media. “And storytelling has been defined as ‘the art of using language’. It teaches us about universal concepts, important events, values of good morals and virtues,” she says.
The event will take place at Narada Gana Sabha (TTK Road) at 5.30 pm.