Concept Note
"Carnival of Pedagogy: Theatre and Ecology" 


The "Carnival of Pedagogy: Theatre and Ecology" is an initiative to explore the intersection of theatre and ecology within the context of the International Festival of Theatre Schools in Kerala. While Literary Studies and Media and Film Studies have been responsive to environmental issues, Theatre and Performance, with their anthropocentric heritage, have been slower to respond. However, it is essential to note that traditional Asian Theatre and Performance have always had an innate connection with the environment. The Sangha Literary Texts' Agananuru Uttuyya and the plays of Kalidasa artfully express the beauty of nature and its significant role in shaping human culture. In India and other Asian countries, the age-old traditional performance forms follow a calendar highlighting the harvest's impact and climate/seasonal changes. For centuries, various regions of Kerala have been hosting traditional performances every month, following the agricultural cycle and the shifting seasons. Traditional performing forms often incorporate nature-inspired metaphors and materials, which add an extra layer of beauty and depth. For instance, ecologically sound materials such as seeds, organically derived pigment and straw padding are used in makeup and costumes for Thiyyam, Kathakali, and other traditional & classical forms of Kerala. Throughout history, the art of theatre has been closely linked with its surroundings. The natural world has often inspired performances, while in return, theatrical productions have contributed to the preservation of the environment. Recent developments in the field, such as exploring animals, cyborgs, objects, and publications focused on ecology and the environment, indicate a growing contribution from theatre and performance scholars to the Environmental Humanities. This initiative seeks to delve into the potential of theatre as a medium to engage with ecological issues and contribute to the Environmental Humanities. This IFTS will highlight the need to move beyond explicit eco-critical messages in theatre and examine the theatrical medium's inherent possibilities. In today's world, expanding our horizons and considering alternative sources of inspiration is crucial. These may include unique perspectives and experiences in coastal, tribal, slums and underprivileged areas, among other subaltern spaces. Protecting the connection between human rights and the environment is crucial. Tribal communities in India have long faced inequality and exploitation, leading to a surge of movements for their rights. We should try to include human rights in environmental policymaking and ensure that progress/development aligns with our values. To address environmental issues, we must consider insights from science, economics, ethics, activism, and philosophy. By synthesising these perspectives, we can develop a comprehensive approach. Our aim at IFTS is to create a framework incorporating various theories and life experience models, exploring ecological perspectives and developing a sensitive pedagogy methodology for theatre..

Concept in Education

The education system must evolve to cultivate 21st-century skills in students. Higher education needs to contribute to sustainable development through social and technological innovations. The International Festival of Theatre Schools (IFTS) envisions a knowledge society that fosters an understanding of ecology and sustains a knowledge-based economy. The current system relies heavily on discipline-based syllabi, offering limited opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. The higher education system should prioritise learning over teaching, develop conceptual understanding, relevance to real-world situations, logical analysis, and problem-solving. Digital technologies and the internet provide students access to web-based learning, offering flexibility and choice. The IFTS is exploring ways to enhance academic programs by developing curricula that provide students with a solid foundation of knowledge, intellectual skills, a global outlook, adaptable skill sets, and essential Disciplinary training should focus more on developing structures of thought, inquiry, exploration, expression, attitudes, sensibilities, habits, and teamwork abilities. The IFTS will provide recommendations based on a social needs assessment conducted in collaboration with stakeholders in Environment and Ecology.


"Carnival of Pedagogy: Theatre and Ecology" highlights the emergence of theatre and performance scholars' contribution to the Environmental Humanities. It addresses what theatre can do ecologically and provides insights into various perspectives and methodologies researchers and practitioners explore. By fostering awareness, empathy, and dialogue, the theatre has the potential to play a significant role in addressing environmental issues and shaping a more sustainable future. By focusing on the intrinsic qualities of theatre, acknowledging its weaknesses, and challenging dominant paradigms, theatre can contribute to environmental discourse and offer alternative perspectives on the relationship between humans and the natural world. The International Festival of Theatre Schools in Kerala provides a platform to explore these ideas and foster a deeper understanding of the ecological potential of theatre and performance.

Key Points for Exploration

1. Theatre's Ecological Contribution:

• The central question is what theatre can do ecologically. Theatre possesses unique qualities that can contribute to ecological discourse and action.
• Theatre raises awareness about environmental issues, engages audiences emotionally, and fosters empathy towards the natural world.
• Through performances, theatre inspires dialogue, challenges perceptions, and encourages individuals to re-evaluate their relationship with the environment.

2. Perspectives and Methodologies

• Leading researchers, pedagogues and practitioners offer diverse perspectives and methodologies to explore the ecological potential of theatre and performance.
• Reflections on rehearsal processes analyse how environmental themes are incorporated during the creation of performances, considering the use of sustainable materials and practices.
• Examining how musical or choreographic compositions can convey ecological narratives or metaphors.
• Exploring performances that interact with specific natural or urban environments to provoke ecological awareness and change.
• Investigating how theatre can address conflicts related to the environment and highlight the complex relationship between humans and nature.
• Studying the representation of ecological time in performances and how it influences our perception of environmental issues.
• We are exploring the role of emotions, such as disappointment and hope, in the audience's experience of ecological performances.

3. Cautious, Tentative, and Generative Approaches

• Emphasise the importance of approaching the ecological potential of theatre and performance cautiously and tentatively.
• While acknowledging the urgency of environmental challenges, the pedagogues & scholars urge thoughtful exploration rather than hastily implemented solutions.
• The IFTS may aim to generate new insights and understanding regarding the ecological contributions of theatre and performance.

4. Regional, Local Culture, and Life

The Interconnectedness of Culture and Nature:
• The intricate relationship between regional culture and the natural environment.
• How nature shapes and influences the way of life in a particular region.
• The reciprocal impact of cultural practices on the local ecosystem.
Adapting to Changing Environments:
• The persistence of cultural expressions and traditional knowledge in the face of evolving social contexts.
• The challenges posed by changing environments and climate change to local cultures and their ways of life.
• Strategies for preserving and adapting cultural practices in response to environmental shifts.
Coexistence with Non-Human Entities:
• The coexistence between humans and non-human living entities within a regional context.
• The role of regional culture in shaping the relationships between humans and their natural surroundings.
• The importance of recognising and respecting the earth and biosphere as integral parts of local culture and life.
The Holistic Approach of "One Health"
• "One Health" emphasises the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health.
• Recognising that human health is intricately linked with the health of animals and the overall environment.
• Understanding that diseases can originate in animals and impact human populations.
• Emphasising the need for cooperation and coordination between human and veterinary healthcare professionals, environmental scientists, and policymakers.
• Highlighting the importance of a holistic approach to health that considers the well-being of all living entities and the planet.