A unique variety West-End performance by London School of Economics students
Hope – a four letter word which is often far from our lips. Global warming, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, crime, drugs and alcohol – are modern events which the media blasts at us. But the show this young generation of 19 year-old international students put together was spell-binding in its music, dance, singing, film and creativity. It gave HOPE for the future from an institution at the leading edge of global research and science.
The show involved 200 students from different parts of the world – China, Carribean, India, Italy, Eastern Europe and was directed by Mikesh Vora and Seeta Haria, two first year undergraduates. It was hosted by ‘Her Majestys Theatre’ at Haymarket in the West End on Sunday 20th January and funds raised in aid of several charities. Entitled ‘Timeless’, the performance creatively displayed the artistic talents that lie within different peoples and cultures. One of the centre-pieces of the show was a ‘Charlie Chaplin’ style silent black and white film, depicting a young student from India coming to study at the LSE and being told point-blank by the parents – ‘no alcohol, no drugs, and no girls!’ But as is so common with most students in their first bout of freedom, he went for it having this view of the West as the ultimate in freedom. He discovers a beautiful Chinese student, who is repelled by his traditional clothes and behaviour. He goes for counselling, stalks the girl, rescues her from a gang of attackers, and at last she falls for him! The acting and direction was beautiful, and as the story threaded in between the dances, it kept everyone hooked to the plot. It was a timeless film, drawing from Hollywood, Bollywood and of course Britishhumour-wood. Everyone was in fits of laughter.
The dances themselves had a variety of costumes and music genres, from Bhangra to Hip-Hop, from Rock to Soul and blended these – Desi Munky was the producer and mixer. The choreography was inventive, taking aspects of the old, merging with the new and dreaming and speculating on the future. It was art for arts sake – a creative expression by a generation of very intelligent ‘rational’ minds who somehow are still addicted to art and want to fuse it with reason.
A lot of the performances drew from the huge diversity of India – the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the whole world is my family (including plants and animals). Punjab, Gujarat, South India – all had their varying influences. India has been home to all the major religions of the world and is a melting pot of so many diverse cultures and languages which have in themselves been timeless – it was globalised millennia ago. This is the real ‘software’ of India – not the modern day hype about the technocrats, but the age old wisdom of non-violence, sustainability, bio-diversity, creativity, literature and music. It is a vast reservoir, not separating the religious from the secular, which has yet to be interpreted by western Universities and incorporated into their curricula. It is a very timely wisdom, given the failure of materialistic science and utilitarianism. In the Indian psyche, there is a ‘borderless mind’ which is unafraid to learn from others and adapt, which is tolerant and respectful of difference, and whose goal is not power and dominance but sharing and enlightenment for all.
Perhaps the show could have incorporated nature and animals into the performances, creatively. This would have shown that bio-diversity is the true bedrock of human diversity. Also it should not have feigned from incorporating the deep and profound spiritual heritage of India which is so urgently needed in the world today. This would have given the message that peace on earth cannot be obtained at the expense of peace with nature or spiritual destruction. The Directors are both from the ancient ‘Jain’ tradition which has a very integrated and holistic philosophy of respect for all living beings. It was amazing for me to see this ancient tradition expressed in this modern way – and showed how timeless its values are.
Monday, January 21, 2008
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