A group of young kids on a mission to find a magic potion to save their farm from evil may seem like a story straight out of a fantasy fable penned by an English or an American author. But no! The aforementioned story has been conceptualised by the children from Ahilya Education Society (AES), Hyderabad and authored by city-based educator and head of AES, Toral Shah. What’s even more interesting is that this fantastical tale written has been successfully staged twice, at Lamakaan and Our Sacred Space respectively, amid great applause from the audiences.
Elaborating on the entire initiative as well as the play, Toral says, “It was my father’s dream and hard work due to which AES started. But we couldn’t continue for long due to a fund crunch. However, now we have geared up to provide quality education at an affordable cost to children from underprivileged communities. At present, we have 48 children attending the school.” In fact, these kids are taught through innovative modes of learning, which makes their curriculum extremely engaging throughout the year. “We educate them through the power of stories,” mentions Toral. One such story is 3,999 cups and more..., on which the play was based, scripted and performed by the primary class students of several other prominent schools in the city. “While I was thinking of how to get the talent of these children across to more people, I came up with the idea of staging a play. But again, the language was the problem. They had written it in Telugu and Hindi and we wanted it to be in English for a wider reach. So I translated the entire script and my friend helped me to make it crisp by editing it,” shares Toral, who reveals that choosing the actors for the play was yet another challenge that the team faced.
“As we wanted the play to be in English, our children from AES would not have been comfortable to remember and deliver so many dialogues in English. So I asked my friends, who happily agreed to get their kids to act on the project. And since then, it has been a great journey as a team,” she says, with a smile. One of the play’s actors, Hayagreev K, student of class III, Hyderabad Public School, says, “We didn’t know each other before the play but we became good friends because of it.” For team 3,999 cups and more..., it is now time for more shows across the city. “We are planning to stage the play in front of as many people as we can. Apart from that, the script has been turned into a book and is available online on Amazon India,” shares Toral.