'We are the change'

on a mission  ( Left to Right) Soji James, Kasturi Mitra, Supriya Nayak, Trina  Talukdar and Kavita VenugopalChrist University Social Work final year students Trina Talukdar, Supriya Nayak, Kasturi Mitra and Kavita Venugopal will travel to Denmark on December 7, 2009 to be a part of the Copenhagen summit on Climate Change, where they will stage their play Life & Death. Accompanying them will be violinist Anujan Krishnamoorthy, who works in Wipro, Bangalore.

“It is important to involve the youth in campaigns like fighting climate change. After all, we will be the ones dealing with the problems brought on by unchecked consumerism,” says Trina, confessing that it was the indiscriminate tree felling for the Metro rail project in Kolkata and Bangalore that got her interested in environmental issues.

Growing movement

Trina and her team are part of the British Council’s International Climate Change Champions (ICC) programme which works with young people in 60 countries. “We help develop and implement projects within local communities that raise awareness on climate change,” says Trina. The ‘champions’ are usually aged between 11-35 years. In 2008, there were 800 International Climate Champions in 29 countries. In 2009, there are 1,300 Champions in 60 countries.

The British Council supports the champions by providing training in project management and communication. The ICC teams have been working on projects to stop the use of plastic bags and promote car pooling.

Strong message

The audition for the team that would attend the Copenhagen Climate Change summit was held in Bangalore in August, where Trina’s team, Tatva, staged a street play that had a strong message, music and dance. The results were announced in October. Tatva has since been busy with paperwork and visas. About Life & Death, Trina explains: “It is about the havoc that the human race has unleashed on nature. The second half of the play is about how nature hits back. The human spirit then rises from the grave and repents for having abused the planet.”

Kasturi Mitra says the costumes were designed keeping in mind the cold weather in Copenhagen.

“We will be wearing  body suits, dhotis and silk waistcoats in shades of brown, blue, orange, white and silver. The human body will be represented in a black body suit. Our faces will be painted,” she says.

Song and dance is woven into the play to tell the story of a girl who is fiercely independent. She then slips into a dream, an imaginary world of lush greenery. She wakes up only to realise that the real world is heavily polluted.

One of the songs, in the folk tradition, describes the plight of farmers who don’t leave carbon footprints but suffer the consequences of other people’s thoughtless consumption.

Since October, the girls have been working on their dream project for six hours a day. Their college has allowed them to rehearse in the auditorium.

“As we are final year students and it is our last semester, we had to submit our dissertations in time, but our lecturers have extended our deadline,” says Supriya Nayak.

The Tatva team will distribute postcards on the effects of climate change, screen short films and participate in debates at the Copenhagen summit.

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