Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Theatre workshops in slums of India

For nearly a decade, Dr Selina Busby, course leader in MA Applied Theatre at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, and her students have been working with an NGO in Mumbai and alongside a collection of local Indian artists and practitioners on a project in Dharavi. The aim of the project is to improve English language skills and create a platform for discussions and creativity between different cultures through Applied Theatre.

Dharavi is known as ‘the largest slum in India’, and is an area that has been given worldly visibility by Danny Boyle’s film Slumdog Millionaire. An estimated 1.5 million people live in the Dharavi settlement, which is only one square mile in size, and many families live in cramped spaces without any sanitation or clean, running water.

The NGO works at a community level, empowering women in slum communities to be the catalyst of change in their own right. Many of the young participants in Dr Busby’s project are homeless and have no responsible adults in their lives.

They see few opportunities for change, and many dream of escaping through being discovered as a Bollywood star. Dr Busby’s work endorses these dreams through workshops that encourage learning and are facilitated through the mediums of theatre, dance, performance and play.

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