A few months ago, when seven schools and a handful of individuals began rehearsing for Trinayani’s Inclusive Musical, the feeling was that of any other annual concert. Students from regular schools and special needs schools began to learn songs or the ramp-walk in their own environments. There were readings among the theatre persons playing the roles of the protagonists.
As the day for the final show of “Yeh Hai Duniya Meri Jaan” approached, one could find a large group of people gathered around the stage, going through lines, songs and a ramp-walk. There were tears in many an eye as they listened to the melodic voices of the blind students from Premasree and watched deaf students from Oral School for Deaf Children singing through Sign Language. They were left spellbound when the students of Mentaid, who have intellectual disabilities, filed by smartly, as they practised for the fashion show.
On 17th December, the day arrived for the final show at Rabindra Sadan featuring disabled and non-disabled performers (actors, singers, dancers) and students of 7 schools of Kolkata in a grand musical extravaganza.
The show was designed and scripted by Varsha Sheth in ‘Hinglish’, directed by theatre veteran Ashok Singh had noted danseuse Alokananda Roy choreographing the dances and Bhavna Hemani choreographing the fashion show. Audiovisual inputs by Vineet Jain, lights by Dinesh Poddar and live singing by an Inclusive Choir added charm to a very well-produced show.
Students of Oral School for deaf children performed the songs in sign language, and the other schools that presented the song-and-dance routines were Akshar, Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, The Heritage School, Premasree Residential Home for the Blind, Mentaid and Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan.
Celebrity actor Victor Banerjee and Celebrity Chef Shaun Kenworthy played small but meaningful roles to endorse disability awareness and inclusion. A theme song, written by Varsha and composed by Varsha and Ritika, created waves among the participants and audience who sang along, in the end.
The drama was a simple but powerful story of 7 friends who overcome odds and despair to achieve their dream of opening a restaurant together. The 7 key actors (who also danced) were Harshit Gohil, Nishant Dave, Kanishka Tiwary, Nikita Thakkar, Anandita Thakker, Den (Sayom Deb, a wheelchair user) and Rajiv Saha (who is visually impaired). They were supported by Yuvraj Vyas, Jay Badlani, Padma Francis and Mahesh Oberoi.
The mingling and performing together of people with and without disabilities was heart-warming and unique. We at Trinayani believe that this process allowed a splendid opportunity in bringing formative minds together and in direct informal contact to understand each other and shed all fears, myths, and misconceptions in between.
It is needless to say that these initiatives towards the process of Inclusion work as important stepping stones towards understanding persons with disabilities and getting rid of all negative preconceived notions attached to them.
It is when all the participants got together that the result became anything but ordinary. It was an eye-opening, emotional roller-coaster, bringing together persons who have different disabilities and non-disabled persons together creating something beautiful to behold.