Volume 4 Issue 7 - April 01, 2006

Theatre is the most inclusive subject as it challenges both disabled and non-disabled

D.N.I.S. News Network- The stereotype of success and ability enforced through schools and colleges lead to a scuttling of learning through expression of human face, body and sound, says veteran theatre personality Steve Clorfeine.

Interacting with over two dozen teachers engaged in education of disabled people in the capital, Clorfeine struggled to make them drop so-called pose of perfection and imitate his imperfect and inexplicable gestures to just drive home the point that expressions are not a limiting construct of a society, but a highly distinct and individualistic expression.

Speaking to D.N.I.S. on the sidelines of the workshop that was sponsored by American Center, New Delhi and organised by Society for Very Special Arts, he said: “There is a tendency of the powerful mainstream to suppress and deny the different. It is like the culture of non-disabled against the culture of disabled. But art and expression need not get into such a power struggle. Theatre is the most inclusive subject as it challenges both disabled and non-disabled in the same way.”

Clorfeine has been writing, performing and directing theatre pieces since 1975 and despite being invited specifically to share his repertoire with special teachers is not very keen on drawing a distinction of theatre for disabled and non-disabled.

“I am not a specialist dealing with disabled students or teachers; I have worked with people who have had disability but were part of a heterogeneous group of people. But I intend to come back next year and work with disabled and non-disabled children in experimenting with expressions,” he said.

Clorfeine skillfully demonstrated through strange vocal modulations how apparently unintelligible sounds can challenge rationality. He said: “I have observed deaf people as they use gestures to communicate and respond. So is the case with mentally disabled people who respond to each and every sound and action that takes place in their surroundings.”

Speaking of his workshops, he said: “We work with the foundations of physical theatre: stillness and silence - the empty space from which emerges the ground on which we act, dance, and tell stories. We play with gestures, sounds with the whole group and work with partners to focus and deepen these improvised studies. From here we can begin to see where characters and scenes might develop, and the emotional life of these begins to manifest."

During his current visit to this region, he has conducted workshops for the Nepal Royal Academy in Kathmandu and with Barry John’s Imago Theatre-in-Education Group in New Delhi.

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