On 28 July 2012, Imagineer Productions 21st Century fronted a massive carnival called Godiva Awakes. This spectacular performance involved dancers, actors, aerialists, musicians and pyrotechnicians and US!
Caste Away Arts working with the Belgrade theatres team represented freedom and peace – Sunita, Anupriya, Kavin, Jem, Ann, Vaishalay, Vishahan, Vithyan and me Reena.Godiva Awakes is about Artists taking the lead, a series of 12 public art commissions across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, funded by Arts Council England.
This event was nothing short of wonderful. The colour, the costumes, the diversity and yes Vishahan’s mad antics are always amusing. Some of our reluctant dancers (Anupriya) had a few reservations about dance but truly conquered her fears and home on a high dancing all the way. The beauty of this event was the reception from the people of Coventry. We were one community united and that’s important. This event has surely inspired us and left a lasting impression myself and our young people. Watch this pace were out to do more. Reena J
Release UK finally got their first shot at the stage on the 14th July at Civic Hall in Bedworth town centre with the Tamil Welfare Association whom hosts their annual celebrations and put on a variety show of Tamil Arts and literature. This lasts pretty much all day till the early hours of the morning but hey it’s all fantastic stuff!
Release UK performed their devised drama called ‘Breaking the Silence’ inspired by the groups own writing that tackled injustice to communities that suffer human rights abuses. The sketch was a black comedy which was daring for the first time but here there apart of Caste Away Arts so what else would you expect. There was a song, sound scapes, mini sketches and mime. A real winner with the audience whom were drawn in from beginning to end despite the group only having 5 hours to devise the piece in a space of 6 weeks they nailed it beautifully. They had no choice really as I have been threatened to throw them in the wheelie bin since day one.
It was a real honour to receive my golden robe by the Tamil welfare Association but the real honour has been working with the young people. A Huge shoat out to Anupriya – you were amazing and have held this performance together! Umai- you were excellent and loved the quick costume change. Kavin- you have a big mouth and it helped with tonight’s show well done. Vaishaly you are exceptionally talented and don’t know how you do show after show, your amazing. Chowmia your story was the pinnacle to this show thank you for speaking out you are so brave. Nothiga- I know you were ill but you did great anyway you trooper. Abilan- a huge well done and great voice and improvisation tonight. Melanie you were super star and had great projection. Thavin despite chasing you up 100 times you were really good. Rensil- great work, remember me please…. Anna thank you for joining in good work, Mary great stuff once again, Leshanth-excellent effort as always to the power of 59! Vishahan- I could have killed you tonight as you got on my nerves but the stage brings out the best in you so well done. Nithisa- your poems were the inspiration, thanks. Niveetha -well done you have worked so hard and Jem- you killed it tonight! You’re a very dedicated member. And an EXTRA thanks to Jese who more or less did my job but better. This show would not have been a success without your support. Thank you and much love…zzzzzzz
Young members of Caste Away Arts’ Release UK Programme have been taking part in accelerated learning that this involves trips and experiences that promote social skills and learning to network. Leshanth (12), Gem (13) and Vaishali (13) attended a conference for the first time did the initial meet and greet which was praised by members of BOPA (British Organisation for people of Asian Origin). This Coventry held conference covered the promotion of community cohesion, solidarity and integrations with a celebration of the achievements made by people of oh Asian origin. One of those achievers is Apache Indian a childhood here of mine hero-Apache Indian who stormed into the charts during the early 90’s and had a huge success with his Bhangramuffin style and singing in patosis and bits of Punjabi. What we appreciate about Apache is his ability to create catchy tunes while making social criticism- something that resonates with the Caste Away Arts ethos e.g – ‘Arranged Marriages’ and ‘The caste system’ are some of few song that Apache has made an enormous patch on. Well done to his recent award for It was a pleasure for me and our young members to meet him. Chak de!
Saturday June 30th brought caste away arts and Ekatva together at the end of their amazing journey after their sell-out UK tour. A special workshop took place at Sai community school, in London with local students led by Reena and Rena; and special appearances by the youth of our programme Release UK. Anupriya, Vaishalli, Jese and Leshanth whom helped us lead the workshop.
The objective of the workshop was to build a group bond but explore identity and getting to know each other. It was fun packed and lively as always. We split the whole group into the two sub groups and they were given word stimulus that had to be recreated physically as a whole group. At first both groups devised something very similar but then as a group jelled their competitive streak kicked in and they created their version of freedom, a waterfall and the Olympics. Really excellent outcome and we just let them flourish with creativity without us intervening and that’s always works. We had the opportunity to work in pairs and get to know each other and present whet we learned about each another which was very insightful and interesting to see how similar we all are despite our social and geographical circumstances. There were some language barriers but a bridge of unity and friendship was built and communication isn’t just about words. We then made a montage of out hand prints and had a mess around with the paint and created a piece of art that will be cherished.
The local young people stayed to have a chat with the youth from Ekatva and observing over lunch a kinship had already developed. Vicky called his new friend ‘Bhai’ and beckoned him over to sit with him. There was an exchange of hugs and the last touch to this workshop was the presentation of handmade gifts that Release UK had made after watching the show in Birmingham. Anupriya kindly gave and tied each friendship bracelet (that she lovingly made) on the young people from Ekatva and Leshanth presented everyone with his origami birds inspired by the birds in their production. This was a real talking point and no body went home empty and everyone took away something positive.
Leshanth from Caste Away Arts Release UK group says ‘’ the origami is a token of friendship and I will never forget this experience and how much I’ve learned from Ekatva. ”
Vaishalli sacrificed a Bharatanatyam performance just to see her new friends again and said it was well worth it.
Reena Jaisiah says “Giving does not have to be a commodity but a smile, a bit of warmth, exchange of handmade gifts rather that flashing your cash as we do in our materialistic society. Though we are all different in many ways, but strip us from our ego, individuality, culture fame and fortune and the remainder of all this difference is essentially the same. I have learned from this whole project is that we do not ever feel the need to feel sorry for people because we may think they are poor. We were the poor ones that have now become enriched with this experience. “ Just want to say a HUGE Thank you to our good friends who have left us with a lasting impression of inspiration. Vicky, Payal, Gaurang, Bharti, Krishana, Vishal, Sanjay, Devram, Niktia, Chandani, Dharmaji, Priyanka, Bhavnik, Nitesh, Dipmala and Asha. See you again ONE day.