This theatre group is feeding thousands of needy families amid COVID-19
The audience watched the drama unfold on stage as the lights slowly shone on the characters at play. There were spurts of laughter and tears of sorrow as the bride-to-be went looking for her father, spawning a side-splitting mess along the way.
This was a small representation from a play called ‘Mama Mia’ performed by the Delhi-based non-profit entity Theatre For A Cause (TFAC).
A glimpse from a TFAC performance with Amita in the lead.
In the words of the renowned American-Italian actor, William Dafoe, “Theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasise about a world we aspire for.” The TFAC group exemplifies just this. Founded by Vandana Munjal, Radhika Bharat Ram and Ritu Rae Chandra in the year 2016, the organisation focusses on creating awareness about social issues and raising funds by producing as well as performing theatrical shows.
Lending a helping hand to fight COVID-19
With the outbreak of coronavirus, most of TFAC’s events that were scheduled early this year had to be cancelled. However, this did not stop the team from doing their bit to the society.
Food being cooked for distribution to daily wage workers.
The group stepped in to help the daily wage earners who had lost their jobs in Delhi, by kicking off a social media campaign. The drive which was titled ‘Sing for a Cause’ was planned in such a way that it urged people to record a 30-second video of them e-singing any of ABBA’s (a world-famous pop group in the 1970s) songs. For every clip that was made and sent, TFAC guaranteed a free meal to 20 people.
The campaign saw a tremendous participation both on Facebook and Instagram. People from hundreds of countries across the globe, including Panama, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Denmark, Sweden, Thailand, UK, and USA sent videos of them humming to ABBA’s music. At the end of it, TFAC gave away 4,600 meals to the poor and unemployed with aid from the Blind Relief Association and Uday Foundation.
What started as a school drama team with a few students, teachers and parents, is presently running to packed houses. Over a period of time, TFAC spread its wings to attract participation from individuals across all walks of life – right from young working professionals to college students to homemakers. And, in the last four years, they have together staged over 42 plays across Delhi and Gurgaon.
Visually impaired children perform in a play 'Kushi - Ek Ehsaas.'
From enacting dramas to raising funds for visually impaired children to staging acts to starting an online campaign for coronavirus relief, they have done it all.
“Piecing a play together for a social cause is what propels all of us at TFAC. Right from 2016, since we produced ‘Khushi - Ek Ehsaas’, featuring 50 visually impaired children from the age of eight to 18 exhibiting their talent on stage, until today, we have been organising shows to give a voice to the voiceless and garner funds for the marginalised sections of society”, Vandana Munjal, Founder, TFAC, tells SocialStory.
The journey so far
The formation of TFAC goes back to the theatre group of Shri Ram School at Vasant Vihar in Delhi. Over the years, the parents’ association of the school was involved in producing and performing plays for the students on special occasions.
However, in 2016, Radhika Bharat Ram, the Joint Vice-person of the school along with Ritu Rae Chandra and Vandana Munjal, both of whose children were pursuing their education from the same institution, collectively established TFAC.
Radhika Bharat Ram, one of the core members of TFAC.
Since Radhika was actively involved in contributing to the betterment of the visually impaired by donning the roles of the Jt. Secretary of The Blind Relief Association and the Chairperson of the Indian Blind Sports Association as well as the JPM Senior Secondary School for the Blind, TFAC’s first spectacle was aimed at obtaining funds for the blind.
“The short musical play titled, ‘Kushi - Ek Ehsaas’, was illustrated through the eyes of a cat named Kushi and all the life lessons the pet came across in its journey. Though this was TFAC’s first effort, the response we got from the audience was overwhelming. We managed to garner quite a good amount of money for The Blind Relief Association at the end of it. From there on, there was no looking back for us,” recalls Vandana.
A still from 'Mama Mia' aimed at raising funds for Azad Foundation.
Following the success of 'Kushi - Ek Ehsaas', the trio organised auditions, roped in more actors and performers to produce ‘Mama Mia’ in support of Azad Foundation, an NGO that provides livelihoods to unemployed urban women across India. Not only was the act instrumental in raising awareness about the organisation’s ‘Women on Wheels’ campaign, but also attracted many donors. This in turn enabled several women to earn a living by becoming professional drivers.
The team of TFAC also joined hands with the Cancer Awareness, Prevention and Early Detection (CAPED) Trust in 2017 to pull off a show for the awareness and screening of cervical cancer. The event that featured Freddie Mercury in his signature four-octave vocal range, captured the attention of around 16 lakh people and generated funds to screen 1,000 women for the cancer absolutely free of cost.
Ritu Rae Chandra (left) and Vandana Munjal, core members of TFAC.
Some of the other organisations that TFAC has collaborated with includes - Chandigarh Spinal Rehab and Uday Foundation.
“All the 35 of us at TFAC are passionate about what we do - whether it is acting, singing, dancing, or narrating. And, when this results in the creation of a positive social impact, we tend to feel on top of the world. This probably explains why we are continuing to strive in the same direction,” notes Amita Chadha, actor, TFAC.
Today, the group is continuing its endeavour with another version of the digital campaign - ‘The TFAC Challenge’, wherein individuals are being asked to display their talent by presenting any art form of their choice. The idea behind this noble online crusade is to provide ration kits to Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) amid coronavirus. More than 475 kits have already been distributed as part of it thus far.
TFAC delivering ration kits to PwDs through its partners.
The youngest members of the TFAC team - studying in class 9, Saina Munjal and Ahaana Bharat Ram, have started a fundraising campaign on Milaap, to raise money for another 525 kits.
“The support that is being shown to us from the world over is motivating us to do a lot more. We firmly believe that music, dance, and theatre have the power to transcend borders and become a beacon of hope, especially in testing times like these,” says Vandana.