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2001 - 2002 ~ 2003 - 2004 ~ 2005 ~ 2006 - 2007- 2008-2009-2010-2011



Activities to Date





VIDYA Project started as a "theatre for development" project in January 2001 with funding from the UK National Lottery Charities Board and in collaboration with the Pan Centre for Intercultural Arts.


The initial phase of the project involved extensive research in a cross-section of slums in the city to shortlist 28 areas that would benefit the most from our intervention and where we will be able to make some inroads into the community and their latent attitudes.  Before we appointed 5 researchers specifically for this task, members of the VIDYA team along with John Martin, Artistic Director of PAN, Manisha Mehta, Artistic Director of VIDYA visited several slums in the city.


In 2002, VIDYA began a school enrolment process for dropouts in areas where the team was working. During pre-performance research, it was discovered that this was a rampant problem. Nearly 140 children, mainly girls, were readmitted to schools (both Municipal where education is free as well as Private education for those who could afford it).   As a result of VIDYA’s initiative, all of the children are still continuing their education. Beyond performing, this has been one of our most successful ventures.


VIDYA began Community Workshops with Children & Youth.  Every year since 2002, VIDYA has been conducting workshops for children and youth from different slums in Ahmedabad.  The workshops take place simultaneously in selected areas over three weeks.  The Peer Group Performance Company is divided into smaller groups in order to facilitate these workshops.  The training includes theatre skills like basic voice and bodywork, as well as the creation of performances through games, exercises and storytelling.  The participants decide the subject matter of their plays that are often inspired from popular fables and folk tales. The workshop culminate in an "event" where the different groups put up the works they have produced.  All participants receive certificates from VIDYA.






July 2003, VIDYA establishes its own Independent Identity.    VIDYA continues its groundbreaking work as VIDYA Educational and Charitable Trust. The Co-Founder members are Mojisola Adebayo, John Martin, and Manisha Mehta


In order to break communalism barriers on 18th October 2003, VIDYA gave Forum Theater performance in Muslim Community on behalf of NGO-Center for development, where 800 audience members actively participated.


Between November 2003 and January 2004, the VIDYA Management conducted a workshop for some members of the Performance Company on Project Presentation. This included a period of field-work during which participants had to present VIDYA to 5 NGOs in Ahmedabad. The purpose was to equip the performers with theoretical knowledge and skills, as well as practical experience in preparing presentations, speaking in public about our work and networking with other organisations on behalf of VIDYA.


On the State level at the VAUTHA TRADE FAIR on the 7th November 2003, VIDYA performed for 3 hours highlighting Education through Entertainment, which not only compromised of structure plays but included folklore and theatrical image songs on women empowerment which attracted 500,000 audience members.


Between December 2003 and April 2004, VIDYA participated in an awareness campaign on sanitation and hygiene in coastal areas of Gujarat. This was a collaborative project with 3 NGOs- Utthan, Medhavi and the Centre for Environment Education. Over a period of 4 months, VIDYA presented 100 performances in 100 villages.


In February 2004, John Martin, Artistic Director, Pan Centre for Intercultural Arts, UK conducted a 4-day workshop with the Peer Group on making and using masks in performance.


From April to May 2004, Artistic Director Manisha Mehta participated in the UNESCO-endorsed Earth Symposium in Vancouver. This event, an international initiative of The Earth Project was presented by DanceArts Vancouver in association with Simon Fraser University. Ms. Mehta presented VIDYA’s work in a Show and Tell session of the Symposium.

In August 2004, Ms Mehta revisited Vancouver to participate in Level 1 and Level 2 of a Forum Theatre Training Workshop entitled ‘Theatre for Living’ organized by Headlines Theatre.


VIDYA also planned and implemented a Summer Theater workshop with Slum children and performed in April 2004 in villages of Coastal Gujarat in collaboration with the NGO UTHHAN.


In 2004, VIDYA collaborated on a 3-month project with a local NGO, Amari Mandali, in Vyara in south Gujarat. Amari Mandali works in the interiors of tribal villages. During this period of time, VIDYA worked intensively with Adivasi school children on a host of environmental issues. These included preservation of forests and the dangers of industrial exploitation. The series of workshops was culminated in the production of several short plays and an exhibition.


Between October and December 2004, VIDYA participated in a series of workshops in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Kerala (Trivandrum and Trichur) organized by Prof. Ralph Yarrow, University of East Anglia, UK with support from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRC). VIDYA was presented as a model of successful practice to other organizations and individuals working in the field of Theatre and Development in the various regions of India. The workshops provided a platform to share information, ideas, skills and future plans and discuss the needs and problems, and possible ways of addressing them, so that a network can be formed to exchange resources. A large number of groups from across the country (as well as Bangladesh) attended these events. This was a great opportunity for VIDYA to showcase their methodology and interact with others doing similar work in different contexts.


In December 2004, VIDYA again worked in association with Utthan spreading consciousness and information on sanitation and hygiene in rural areas surrounding Bhavnagar in coastal Gujarat.






This year VIDYA selected another 20 slums to work with.  We saw this as an opportunity to share our experience with many more communities – we used the same methodology that we have been practicing.  However, this year we started introducing structured plays and then continue with Forum Theatre.  Within the last six months, 20 structured plays (PI) were preformed:

One of the four plays was selected for each performance:

  • Aame Ganda Nathi – deals with issues related to unemployment, gambling and alcoholism.  These are extremely relevant topics for major urban slums.
  • Vidya – based on the issue of girl-child literacy and female feticide.
  • Vidya Na Sapna – creating awareness of basic health and hygiene problems relating to the girl-child
  • Platform – unemployment, poverty, child labour and homelessness relating to those living in railway stations. 


January 2005, Mr. Parry Singh, Computer Specialist conducted a training session in basic computer application skills for our Office Assistant and 2 of VIDYA's Performers.


In February 2005, K. Santosh, a journalist and folk-studies researcher from Kerala worked with some of VIDYA's members in the Gujarat chapter of a research project on folk songs from different regions of India.


Also, in February 2005, Mr. Shailya Shah, Yoga Expert conducted a 10-day workshop for the entire VIDYA team. This intensive training in Yoga and Meditation proved to be very useful in breaking the routine of regular work, increasing levels of concentration, and exercising bodies, minds and souls.


In March 2005, VIDYA conducted workshops with young people and organized performances in urban slums of Ahmedabad in a collaborative project with Pravah, a platform for mobilizing action on drinking water. This programme was part of the international WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for all) Campaign. At an event to commemorate World Water Day on 22nd March, the young performers trained by VIDYA enacted their play at the Ahmedabad Management Association.


June 2005, VIDYA held a large event for the participants of the VIDYA's Community Workshop with Children and Youth.  The event, titled "Uddan": An Evening of Theatre and Songs, was held on Sunday, June 19, 2005 at Ambedkar Hall from 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Every summer as of 2002, VIDYA facilitates theatre workshops for young people from different slums in Ahmedabad.  VIDYA gives them an outlet to unbridle their creativity, a space to voice their thoughts and express their feelings on matters close to their hearts.  VIDYA provides them with the opportunity to be the children that they are!

The following short plays were performed by children trained by VIDYA:

  • Navannu Rupiya: a story of values, honesty, integrity, helpfulness, using money as a symbol of realization and learning.  Performed by young people from Punjidas ni Chali, Naroda.
  • Rani vagar no Raja: about play about women’s right to participate in social and public life.  Performed by young people from Jawaan Nagar, Naroda Patiya.
  • Khoto Rupiya: on the transience of all things fake and the survival of truth.  Performed by young people from D-Colony, Naroda.
  • Madhav ni Matli: highlighting the necessity of education and following the right path.  Performed by young people from Gulbai Tekra.
  • Swacchata Abhiyan: a play on sanitation and hygiene.  Performed by young people from different areas of Eastern Ahmedabad who have been working with us regularly.
  • Vidya: About our core concern – girl-child welfare.  Performed by VIDYA’s Peer Group Performance Company. 


July 2005 – VIDYA had its first fundraising opportunity.  A complete in-house production DVD, CD and cassette were produced to be sold at the Dashamanua Rankar festival.  The festival is extremely popular within the community areas in Gujarat and over a period of ten days more than 100,000 (ten Lakh) people are expected to visit the temple Minavada (sixty five kilometres south of Ahmedabad).  It is also celebrated in various other cities, towns and villages all over Gujarat.  The Album is an echo of the festival consisting of eight folk songs written, composed and presented by the peer group members, accompanied by performances from the renowned Indian classical dancer Bharat Bariya.

 Bharat and Hemali (another artist) performance classical Indian dance supported by VIDYA’s peer group members and English exchange student Laurie Miller-Zutshi, which helped to emphasize VIDYA’s belief in the importance of intercultural arts.  Again a fustion between traditional and contemporary was created, with the traditional dance and costume, while complex and clever editing by Parth Communications gave the video a modern feel.  The group also did all their own publicity and marketing.  On August 4th, two hundred DVD’s were taken to Minavada, where the demand for the album exceeded expectations and a total of three thousand DVD’s, two thousand CD and cassettes were ordered by five distributors.  This number continues to grow as VIDYA promote the album by touring around the state.  They were also using this fundraiser as an educational opportunity to create awareness about VIDYA and its work.

 By the end of the project VIDYA raised enough money to cover the cost of production as well as two month’s operational cost.  VIDYA sees this as a great success for its first album.


In September 2005, we had our first meeting with MSA, wherein, we discussed that VIDYA would develop a script on women's role in local governance (on the issue of the problems faced by women, when she becomes a sarpanch, leader of her village).

After MSA's approval of the script, VIDYA developed a forum play and gave pilot performances, which were approved and highly appreciated, and on the basis of the pilot performances VIDYA performed over 50 performances throughout the villages of Gujarat and completed the project on April 2006




2006 – 2011:


In 2006, VIDYA decided to pay more attention to the slum communities due to the major news that Ahmedabad is now declared to be a Mega City.  We branched out into 28 slums across the city and through our initiative program we are focusing on sanitation issues, health and female foeticide.   


In February 2006, VIDYA had organized a two days workshop at Behavioural Science Centre, for field outreach workers to give them knowledge about how to be successful in working with the community with the help of theatre. VIDYA had imparted them with the right techniques and skills related to theatre, which can bring attitudinal change in the community.


Established VIDYA Dhara: an INCOME GENERATING PROGRAM from Waste to Best concept.  We produce products that are 100% environmentally friendly and are all made by community members.  Our products include Bed Sheets, Shirts, Skirts, Salwaar Kameez, Lamps, Photo Frames, Book Covers, File Covers, Boxes (made from Wedding Invitations), and many more items.

In fact, one of our most popular items is the Shatrangi (made from old sari material).

VIDYA Dhara helps generate a small income for VIDYA’s core work.  VIDYA Dhara also interconnects the work VIDYA already does regarding waste management and sanitation. 


In 2006, VIDYA raised enough funds to purchase an Auto Rickshaw in VIDYA's drive towards self-sustainability.  The Auto Rickshaw:

  • Funds the post of one full time VIDYA member
  • Provides full time employment for a community driver
  • Publicizes VIDYA's work with signs on the rickshaw
  • Encourages environmental awareness and eco-friendliness (CNG - non polluting vehicle)
  • Provides transport for VIDYA to visit and continue slum dweller projects


Manisha Mehta, Artistic Director and three of VIDYA's members performed "Songs for Community" and a presentation of VIDYA's work at The World Urban Festival in Vancouver, Canada organized by the Earth Symposium.


Probir Guha worked with the VIDYA's peer members for 10 days. In this workshop the peer members worked constantly, creating and sharing work. In this workshop they learnt about physical and stylized theatre.


February 2007, VIDYA exhibited VIDYA Dhara’s products at the Chamber of Commerce Exhibition.  VIDYA became an official member of chamber of commerce.


Also in February, VIDYA performed in Municipal Schools on the importance of education, health and sanitation.


From January till May– VIDYA performed various plays in the slums of Ahmedabad and conducted mini-workshops after each performance.  VIDYA performed plays on education, health and sanitation of the slum settlements especially after the declaration of Ahmedabad becoming a Mega-City. 


Since May 2007, VIDYA has been facilitating Practical Skills Training, Self-Sustainability Workshops with Jan Shikshan Sansthan (Gujarat University) across the slums of Ahmedabad.  The goal is to provide women and girls of the slum communities with practical skills to earn an income to become financially independent in the safety of their communities. 

In May and June, VIDYA organized a Candle-Making and Mukhwaas Making Workshop – the demand for candles and Mukhwaas continue throughout the year especially during religious holidays and weddings.

In July, VIDYA organized a four-month Sewing workshop.  Having the ability to sew is a skill women can carry with them irrespective of location.  The demand for clothes is universal and the need is constant – women can make their own clothes and/or make them for the market – helping them earn a solid income and save money


In June 2007, VIDYA members attended a Community Media Meet Conference in Nasik.  The Media Meet was organized by Abhivyakti and Shikshantar and invited VIDYA to discuss Community Theatre.  VIDYA showed the audience Forum Theatre and explained how Community Theatre is a form of media.


Also in June, VIDYA performed and helped enroll nearly 300 students during the Government Schools enrollment week.  VIDYA performed a silent play on the importance and value of education.  In addition, VIDYA sang creative and fun songs for the children and their parents.  VIDYA also spoke to parents about why they should let their children complete their education.  Enrolling them is the first step but they should support and encourage their children to stay in school.    


In July 2007, VIDYA conducted a Women’s Empowerment Result-Oriented Workshop for Chaitanya Charitable Trust in Jamnagar, Gujarat with 30 local women aged 18 to 90.    The women were only aware of folk songs at the beginning but by the end of the workshop they learned about self-development, awareness, sustainability and empowerment through Theatre and Theatre-techniques. At the end of the workshop, the women performed small role-plays on issues they were dealing with in their respective communities.  Creative games, exercises, debates, theme-based discussions were used to make the women aware of their movements, personal aggression, conflicts and how to resolve issues and face aggression through dialogue and Theatre.  They learned how to create dialogues, self-help groups, about self-sustainability, banking, saving concepts, and how to raise their voices.


In August, Manisha Mehta, Artistic Director presents VIDYA…Theatre…Education…Development at the International Seminar on Applied Drama for Community Development at Madurai Kamaraj University, School of Performing Arts upon invitation

September VIDYA organized and facilitated a discussion on “Theatre for Education” and invited  Dr.Parasuram Ramamoorthi and teachers from public schools to discuss the gender imbalance and how theatre can be used in the education system.  This intensive and insightful discussion brought about many ideas onto the table. 


October: VIDYA began performing issue-based plays in the slums of Ahmedabad.  Research as in what issues were most prevalent in the community began in September and so in October, performances as per the community issue started. 

With the upcoming festive season, VIDYA took this opportunity to make Diyas (Candles).  In May and June 2007, VIDYA had facilitated candle-making workshops, members used this skills on a Diwali project of producing Diyas to be sold for Diwali and the New Year festivities. 


November – Happy Diwali and Happy New Year!  VIDYA continued working on the Diwali Project in addition to performing in communities. 

After mid-November: due to the election coming in December, VIDYA is rescheduling performances in the community and focusing on group workshops within the communities.  This is also an opportunity for VIDYA to visit communities to wish them well for the New Year. 

December – Manisha, Mojisola and John continued work on “The Theatre for Development Handbook”


December – Nireeksha and SSA organized a teacher’s workshop in Trivandrum where Manisha Mehta was one of the theatre persons and lecturer.  Ms. Mehta conducted three, 90 minute session with the teachers. 

The participants were Montessori to higher secondary teachers and were taught the fine elements of theatre for education, theatre for development.  Though they had attended many seminars and workshops, this was a new concept for them and they reached the goal that Ms. Mehta had set before beginning her sessions which was to help them determine:

(Synopsis) What is your role as an educator and how does it impact the gender imbalance?

Through this workshop, the teachers became aware, recognized and realized how they are impacting the gender imbalance.  Through step-by-step discussions and debates, Ms. Mehta helped the teachers discover what they can do and change to encompass gender sensitivity into their personal teaching style and balance the scale through theatre. 




January – Manisha visited the U.K.  She spent a week with Mojisola and John to continue working on the handbook.


January – During her stay in the U.K.  Professor Ralph Yarrow invited Manisha to present a lecture on her developmental work to M.A. students at the East Anglia University in Norwich.


February – Manisha and VIDYA members conducted a workshop in Trivandrum organized by Nireeksha and AHRC.  Participants were 25 young girls and through the workshop they addressed women’s issues, domestic violence, sexual harassment and alcoholism. 


March - "A Jokers' International Day of Action on Global Warming!"  VIDYA conducted two workshops on the issue of global warming and climate change.  VIDYA created awareness in communities about wearing masks and gloves while making incense sticks, planting trees and energy efficiency.


April – VIDYA members visited Delhi Exhibited VIDYA Dhara’s work.


In November 2009, Vidya had documentary project associated with Caleb Johnsten from Vancouver ,Canada.Vidya made two documentary film where the members of Vidya were given intense training on how to make a documentary films at the end of training Vidya members made two films. 1. Home Dream Home- Based on land disburstment 2. Kana – Based on child abuse


In July 2010-August 2011 ,Vidya associated with Evelyene from University Of Geneva, Switzerland for one workshop where kids from the community were trained in theatre and later on they also performed in almost 52 community/urban slums of Ahmedabad. Along with the kids & Even members of Vidya also performed 50 performances in various slums of Ahmedabad. The issued selected was ‘PEACE’ the play was based on the bias done to students of minority community in school by the teachers . This project was a great success and was appreciated lot 

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