Bombay Showcase

Impromptu fun

In India, there is very little arts programming for people with disabilities. Most organisations that focus on the disabled tend to focus on education, advocacy, and life skills training with almost no emphasis on the performing arts. It’s this desire to fill this gap that prompted Trinayani, CraYon Impact, Improv Comedy Mumbai to come together for a special programme on International Women’s Day. ‘Improv Ability’, an inclusive improvisational comedy workshop performance for women with and without disabilities, will be held today at The Den, a wheelchair-accessible restaurant. Professional improv artistes Preeti Singh and Janhavi Dave will share the stage with previously selected workshop participants.

Ritika Sahni, founding trustee of Trinayani, an NGO combating discrimination against people with disabilities, says, “The profile of the workshop participants is incredibly wide-ranging. We have a law student, a banker, an assistant director who works on sign language films, someone from the corporate sector, and many more people.”

Sahni, who is also the lead singer of Pehli Baarish, an inclusive music band, says, “At the workshop, there will be folks on wheelchairs, some using crutches, and also a deaf lady with her own sign language interpreter. One tends to underestimate the abilities of those who are seen as disabled. It is important to create out-of-the-box events for them, where they get to be out in the mainstream.”

The workshop will be facilitated by two experts in improvisational comedy: Adam Dow and Gavin Methalaka. Improv comedy is all about spontaneity as performers work without a script. Most of the characters, situations, and dialogue are created along the way as performers respond to each other, and the audience. It’s a form that has found applications in educational settings, corporate training, and psychotherapy because of its capacity to help individuals overcome their inhibitions, develop self-esteem, transform the way they relate to their bodies, and also use personal experiences as material to generate humour. Dow, the Artistic Director of Improv Comedy Mumbai, says, “We will be sharing and playing a lot of improv games, and focusing on listening through the body. Our aim is to build on the strengths of our participants, to work with them on team building as well as communication and presentation skills through theatre.”

His co-facilitator, Methalaka, a voiceover and stand-up artist says, “Respect is not about lip service. It is about working together. A lot of our improv games will be around accepting oneself, and each other.”

It is this idea of acceptance that drove Rachana Iyer, co-founder of social enterprise CraYon Impact, to conceptualise Improv Ability with Trinayini.

“I want people with and without disabilities to meet on the same ground, without anyone being patronising. Instead of creating exclusive spaces for people with different needs, I want to make regular fun things more inclusive,” says Iyer, who has a Masters in Social Work (Disability Studies and Action) from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. In the months to come, Iyer is planning to organise inclusive workshops in photography, dance and make-up, which will be open to participants regardless of their differences in abilities.

The Improv Ability Workshop will stage their performance at 7 pm today at The Den, Khar. Tickets are Rs 400 for women and Rs 500 for men

The author is a freelance writer

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 10:35:37 PM |

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