Saturday, January 23, 2021

Classroom protest

Reading Time: 3 minutes

While The Manganiyar Classroom showcases a dying musical heritage, it is also a cry against the educational system in India

Theatre director Roysten Abel, famous for ‘The Manganiyar Seduction’ presented at the 2011 Melbourne Festival, returned this year with little story tellers in ‘The Manganiyar Classroom’.

The Manganiyar Classroom.Indian Link
Photo courtesy Melbourne Recital Centre

The mesmerising show was presented by Melbourne Recital Centre in association with Asia TOPA and Arts Centre Melbourne last month. 
The Manganiyars are a tribal community from Rajasthan with a strong musical tradition. In this newest production, 35 young Manganiyar kids raise their voices against the teacher in protest at how they are being taught, challenging the system all the while as they entertain with their songs.
The little fellows simply stunned with their talent and energy; the song and dance, and sheer rhythm in their music, drew the audience in to their way of life, which sadly, is fast disappearing unless something is done about it.
The Manganiyar Classroom.Indian Link
Photo courtesy Melbourne Recital Centre

“I encourage you to enjoy the absolute beauty of the Manganiyars singing, to see some unique talent from another part of the world and to experience the sheer power of music though innocence,” says Abel. 
The production is not just an introduction to the glorious musical reserves of this treasured tribal community, but through it a kind of activism to highlight issues in the present Indian education system. It was all about a group of naughty boys provoking and challenging their teachers, alongside some truly visceral, passionate and powerful singing to allow them to continue learning through their music.
The Manganiyar Classroom.Indian Link
The show also celebrates the origins of storytelling and tradition – the young boys who are destined to be keepers of the flame, the storytellers of the future, the holders of the tales and traditions.
Abel heard the Manganiyar children in 2005 and engaged talented kids in the first production which resonated with the audiences. Almost eight years later, when he returned to Jaisalmer to see the brilliant young kids, he was speechless as he could not recognise them. “They had lost the spark in their eyes… with no confidence. They told me they had gone to school for about seven years and had chosen to drop out of the music.”
The Manganiyar Classroom.Indian Link
This metamorphosis in the kids disturbed him enough to lead him to work on this production to talk about the issues in the education system through this musical experience. 
After having worked and performed with these children for the past three years Abel is trying to establish a school, a state of the art alternative education system for the Manganiyar children so they can acquire education in a way they will only gain and not lose.
After having seen this performance I truly hope Abel’s efforts yield results – music can not only play a great role in education, it can also help in keeping stories alive and importantly, to share these stories around the world.

- Advertisement -
Previous articleGoan goals
Next articleIndian attacked in Hobart

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

lilly singh

WATCH: Lilly Singh as Sima Taparia in “Indian Matchbreaking”

  Whether we liked it or not, most of us gave into the Sima Taparia craze during lockdown. Within days, we'd all binged on Netflix's...
karl rock

From New Zealand to New Delhi: Meet YouTube’s Karl Rock

  When Karl Rock picks up the phone (with a cheerful ‘Namaste!’ no less), his New Zealand accent is apparent. That is, until he bursts...
Buddhist Kung Fu nuns kicking hard at centuries-old taboos

India’s Buddhist Kung Fu nuns

  They are the Buddhist Kung Fu nuns of Drukpa lineage, known globally for trekking across the Himalayas to pick up trash, paddling through mountain...
jhansi strawberries

Strawberries to write a new chapter of development in Jhansi

  Jhansi which is well-known as the land of valour is all set to write a new chapter and strawberry cultivation would play a pivotal...

WATCH: Aussies try to guess Indian slang

  Many new migrants have had to quickly learn the local lingo upon arriving in Australia, picking up the ie's and the o's as part...