Over the summer 2014, Essex Cultural Diversity Project toured Ramayana to four outdoor locations across Essex. The show, which featured four professional stilt walkers from the Foundation of Indian Performing Arts (FIPA), formed part of the programme at local festivals, sea fronts and town shows, attracting audiences of over 5,000 and providing performance opportunities for over 200 children from Years 5 and 6.
The show is the only version of the Ramayana performed on stilts in the world. The story is a Hindi epic, which tells the story of Rama’s journey to rescue his wife Sita from the evil clutches of Ravan, King of Lanka.
Three schools in Epping and Harwich took part in a specially designed workshop programme. In Colchester and Chelmsford, children, young people and their families were invited to take part in the performance. Picked from the audience by compere and Artistic Director of FIPA, Hi Ching, they chose a side to fight on in the epic battle scene – monkeys or demons.
Each performance was accompanied by DEA (the Dhol Enforcement Agency) from Leicester. Together with the stilt walkers, each performance featured a ‘carnival-style’ procession through the town to the outside performance area. The project provided Essex Cultural Diversity Project with a successful way of engaging communities with traditional folk stories from the Indian sub-continent, reaching a large number of children and families in areas that have little or limited access to culturally diverse work and traditions.