Whenever a society is in a flux, the first thing that comes under attack is freedom of expression. More often than not, people buckle under either draconian laws or threat of violence and conform to even unreasonable diktats.
So, it’s heartening to watch a play by children, who find a way to fight against the powers that be. The play titled 'The Wall of Colours', written by Akash Mohimen and directed by Abhishek Saha was done under the Dramabaazi programme under Thespo, which is an annual festival of plays by youngsters under the age of 25. The play is set in a fictional country in the near future, with an Art Academy funded by the government.
The four students on whom the play is focused are taught by a young teacher, who encourages them to freely express their ideas on canvas. So when they get an order to stop using colours in their paintings and only use black, they baulk against it. Instead of just whining about it, they find a way to go ‘underground’ and paint in colour. They are willing to risk their future to resist a meaningless rule that impinges on their creativity. It is little pockets of rebellion that keep the flame of freedom alive whenever there is a threat.
The play is provocative; the children acting in it are all serious and earnest. This is not the kind of play usually picked for children to perform, but one can imagine the process of putting it together has given them a lot to think about.