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ASB Hosts “Mix the Play”

By Arun Subbian and Rachel Bishop

With a rich history between India and the U.K. that goes back almost three centuries, the two countries are celebrating 2017 as the Year of Culture. The year-long program is meant to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence, as well as cultural ties with the U.K. This celebration provided the perfect opportunity for The American School of Bombay (ASB) and the British Council to collaborate and host “Mix the Play,” an interactive video platform that allows children to experience Shakespeare as never before.
“Mix the Play” gave ASB students and 50 students from local NGOs the unique opportunity to make their own “director’s cut” of different scenes, from auditioning actors for the parts of Romeo and Juliet to fine-tuning the historical and cultural details in each scene. Students experienced the power of deciding how the audience should feel—captivated, anxious, nostalgic, or contemplative—through their own individual design and execution of the culture around Romeo and Juliet.
Working under the guidance of ASB’s Drama and Theatre teacher, Robert Thorburn, students were encouraged to be bold, creative, and to use their imagination. They also learned firsthand to differentiate between dramatic approaches, techniques, and styles of performance. As Robert perfectly sums it up, “Shakespeare is truly timeless and resonates with a multitude of people and nations. Using his plays enables children to work collaboratively, learn new things, think independently, and make creative decisions. More importantly, it makes for an excellent medium for the exchange of cultures between India and the U.K.”
The event provided many new experiences for all its attendees. Pranali, a student at the Avasara school in Mumbai, experienced Shakespeare for the first time at “Mix the Play” and was inspired by the dialogue, as well as by the elements of the dramatic process she engaged in. She “learned to make a play (out of existing material) and direct it,” which in turn allowed her to grow and learn.
For others, this experience meant making new connections. One attendee stated that, “One of the nicest things was the connection to people from other schools that was fun and comfortable. Knowing that one thing connected us all, which was creating a play, is what I won’t forget.”
Grade 10 student, Saudnya, stated, “The ‘Aha!’ happened for me when we were making the movie together. I learned not only how to act but also to interact. My interactions with ASB students and staff were amazing because they all were friendly and wanted to know so much more about us.”
“Mix the Play” was a wonderful opportunity for ASB to play host to a variety of different schools and their students and provide them all with a day of new experiences that both excited and inspired all involved.

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