It is with great excitement that I hit the launch button. In reality, the process of ‘going live’ involves a slightly more complex selection of options within the labyrinthine settings of the website. Great excitement, however, is an accurate choice of words. After six years of coaxing an idea to grow my mind, and twelve months of deliberate activity I find myself here; the place where dreams become reality. Things really do happen when you take a little action every day.
That is an exciting thought.
It all began seven years ago. I was part of a theatre group that toured India for six weeks performing the Sufi legend, ‘Conference of the Birds,’ to schools and communities. We fell in love with the turmoil of Mumbai where jets rumbled overhead during the performances, the innovative energy of Auroville, and the sheer festivity of Udvada where we powered the stage lights from bouquets of electrical cable clustered at the top of power pylons.
Our first port of call was a small fishing village deep in the estuarial network of the Godavari River where its watery fingers flow around verdant islets into the Bay of Bengal. We were overwhelmed by the generosity and joy of the local people but it was the curiosity of the children that touched me the deepest. As we told the story of the Birds one night small faces sat mesmerized by the lights and swirling costumes. After the performance, as we walked past the hall still dressed in our costumes, little hands reached through the bars of the windows and inquisitive fingers grasped at the fabric. It was then I started quietly asking myself what it would be like to come back here and to involve the children in the performance.
Three years later as I lay on the grass outside the Tate Modern, the summer night stars hanging in the inky sky and the north bank lights glistening across the Thames, I made the decision. One day I would give children the opportunity to experience theatre and let it work its magic on them like it had always done for me.
Three years passed again and I started working in earnest on what became Project Phoenix. I decided that I would like to offer theatre workshops to children who would not have the opportunity otherwise. While Uganda is our first destination, I say a quite thank you to the young children of the Godavari estuary every now and then.
Last night as I sat with a group of theatre lovers under the Adelaide skies I felt so blessed to be in their company and inspired by each of their stories and plans for the future. I realized that we each have a unique journey but that we are inextricably linked to those around us. It may be years before an impression left on you by someone comes to the fore of your awareness but eventually you take all the fragmented gems that others have unknowingly shared and create a new reality with them. I feel lucky for the people I have met who have unintentionally impacted who I have become. I hope that Project Phoenix sends some positive ripples into the world and perhaps plants a seed that may lie dormant for years before helping someone blossom into who they truly desire to be. If we impact one child positively then our job is done.
The man who was responsible for our travels to India has since passed on. If I saw him today I would thank him for the great gifts he gave me. He taught me to explore, not merely to travel; he taught me to share my reality, not only to soak up the essence of a place I was visiting; and he showed me how rich and diverse this world is that we are a part of.
This one is for you Peter. I know that wherever you are there will be an irreverent amount of fun being had.