Teach For India's 'The Conference of the Birds' – a Sufi and Hamilton-inspired musical advocates for schools to build India's next generation of leaders
The musical has a soul-stirring original soundtrack composed by musicians Anuraj Bhagat from the True School of Music in partnership with hip-hop artist Nimo Patel. Over the course of 18 months, the students worked with professional artists, musicians, choreographers, and theater directors on the Conference of the Birds.
After exploring the transformational intersection of values, learning and the arts through the Maya Musical in 2014, and The Greatest Show On Earth in 2019, Teach For India embarked on a journey in search of answers to the question ''What is India, and what is the India that our children deserve?'' This journey led to the Conference of the Birds - a Sufi-inspired musical, with a hip-hop twist, and a bold idea at its core - the idea that our nation's leaders are built in classrooms.
The Conference of the Birds draws its name and inspiration from a 12th Century Sufi text by the poet Attar. Reimagining the original text, in which a flock of birds are in search of the meaning of life, the musical adapted the story to a group of students on a quest in search of ''India''. Inspired by the need to build Constitutional Values in children across India, the Conference of the Birds journey took Teach For India students through an 18-month long process of training in music, dance, theatre, literacy and in Teach For India's ''India & I'' Studies.
The India & I Studies are a set of lesson plans from grade 2-8 for students to engage creatively and actively with the ideals of equality, fraternity, justice and liberty. The curriculum attempts to build 21st century skills to enable students to form their own ideas of the role they can play in building a better India. The curriculum was developed over 2 years by 40 educators, is fully designed and ready to use, can be translated and contextualised, and is offered free of cost. The curriculum has been piloted successfully across high, middle and low-income groups.
Featuring an incredible cast of young performers, The Conference of the Birds marks a full circle for Teach For India students Khushi and Priyanka, who starred in Teach For India's first musical, Maya, ten years ago. This full circle moment has been a humbling experience not only for the young kids who now see themselves as educators, but for Teach For India as well, as they witness the ripple effect of a powerful education.
Teach For India Founder and CEO, Shaheen Mistri, who has co-written the script of the Conference of the Birds, said, ''Maya was an important milestone in unleashing the potential of our students, and in spreading the idea that students can be leaders, not in the future, but today.'' Ten-year-old Khushi, who starred as Maya, is doing a four-year music degree and now coaches her 'birds,' as she calls them, the children of the new musical. And Priyanka, who had a lead role in Maya, graduated from Franklin Marshall University and is co-directing the musical alongside Teach For India Alumnus Kautilya Jain. The musical promises to be a spectacular show with sets designed by creative genius Fali Unwala and costumes designed by Simi Nallaseth, who was part of the original Ice Age film's creative team. The musical has a soul-stirring original soundtrack composed by musicians Anuraj Bhagat from the True School of Music in partnership with hip-hop artist Nimo Patel.'' Over the course of 18 months, the students worked with professional artists, musicians, choreographers, and theater directors on the Conference of the Birds. They explored the power of music with composer Anuraj Bhagat and hip-hop artist Nimo Patel, to create an original soul-stirring soundtrack that not only delivers a strong message, but also is an impressive artistic feat. They learnt what it takes to put up a professional musical production, with the help of Set Designer Fali Unwala, costume designer and noted animator from the original Ice Age film, Simi Nallaseth, and Silly Point Productions. The students received a remarkable education in the performing arts, that not only broadened their idea of expression, but also pushed them to strive for excellence.
The musical is set to premiere at St Andrew's Auditorium inMumbai on the 3rd and 4th of June before moving on to Bengaluru (July 29 and 30th) and Delhi (August 12 and 13th). One can attend by booking tickets on BookMyShow. As of now, Mumbai show tickets can be purchased by clicking here.
About Teach For India Teach For India's vision is for all children to get an excellent education. Their mission is to empower and build a movement of leaders by providing them with the support and ecosystem to manifest that change. As one of India's largest Fellowships and pipeline of talent into the education sector, Teach For India creates a nationwide impact by bringing India's brightest students and professionals to become Teach For India Fellows. These Fellows are placed as teachers in government and affordable private schools for two years. Today, 1000 Fellows teach 33,000 students in classrooms across eight cities. Teach For India Alumni directly impact 100,000 more children and reach 50 million children across India.
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