Our founders, Kapil Pandey and Manjima Chatterjee, have a long history in theatre and Manjima is a playwright herself. Therefore, theatre has always been an integral part of Kutumb’s activities as a emotional and reflective outlet for our youth and volunteers. It also serves as an educational tool to teach skills such as team-work, leadership, punctuality, discipline, and the creative processes such as script-writing, directing, sounds, lights, production and other managerial tasks. Through play adaptation and discussion, our young participants reflect and explore human values in the backdrop of the current socio-cultural landscape.
Hilley-ley is our annual theatre-cum-cultural festival. Over the years, the plays performed for Hilley-ley have explored diverse themes, such as: the value of honesty and truth (Charandas Chor, 2006); how to deal with corruption (Gandhiji ki Bakri, 2009); negotiating identities, diversity, prejudices, and the need to achieve harmony over differences (Us and Them, 2010); and, most recently, the limitations of conventional education, through a play that was devised by the children based on their experience of alternate education at Kutumb (Ek Tha Natak, 2011). Over the last few years, Kutumb has made significant progress and the creative processes related to Hilley-ley were successfully transferred to the children and young people attached to Kutumb. Adult volunteers continued to be involved but their intervention reduced drastically as the young people took charge! Hilley-ley has seen increasing leadership from the young members of Kutumb over the years. The creative leadership responsible for preparing a play and staging it in front of a larger audience is that of the young members of Kutumb. Hilley-ley also promotes other cultural arts such as dance, music and puppetry.
Our most recent production of Hilley-ley, Saudagari, was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. It was directed and produced by two of Kutumb’s peer leaders, Mohit and Sumit. This Hindi adaptation was set in the modern era and explored issues of caste and gender inequalities. We held five performances across Delhi.
Additionally, our theatre club, The Mirror Group, meets on a weekly basis to read plays, discuss themes pertinent to youth, and hone their craft.