~Liberation of Working, Street and Bonded Labour Children

2003 © Playwright, Music, Direction
by John Devaraj

A Thracian by birth, Spartacus served in the Roman Army, as a slave. With about 70 fellow gladiators he escaped a gladiatorial training school at Capua in 73BC and took refuge on Mount Vesuvius, where other runaway slaves joined him. The condition in Rome and its rule was at its worst. Extreme poverty, ruthless oppression on the one hand and on the other the vulgar display of wealth, the greed of building the empire, a thirst for power, orgies all for the ultimate pleasure of Caesar. Spartacus rose in rebellion against this condition. After defeating two Roman forces in succession, he overran most of southern Italy. His liberated slave followers grew to at least 90,000. In the final battles Spartacus was defeated by the superior and better equipped Roman army. 6000 prisoners along with Spartacus were crucified along the Apian Way, from Rome to Capua.

Spartacus was competent and humane; he was the first to revolt in the history of human civilization. In fact his heroic rebellion against the Oppressive Roman Empire heralds the struggle for equality and democracy.

Spartacus was crucified in 71BC.
The struggle and spirit of Spartacus a hundred years later was taken up and led by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was also crucified and killed in a similar fashion. Many great leaders came, many upheavals and revolutions have taken place, but the quintessence of slavery persists and plagues the modern world.

A world where there are flying machines faster than sound and light. The world shrinks with knowledge and understanding. Science and technology can create life and destroy it altogether. The new slaves of the 21st century wander and toil in the new millennium, they are called variously as child labor, working children, street children, A hundred million in India alone, millions more in the whole of Asia, Africa and Latin America/

Every child is Born Free
Free from hunger; Free from poverty; Free from hatred; Free from toil. How many children in our country are living free? There are 400 million children in India! Who form 40 percent of our population. Out of this 150million are in school. A hundred million are either primary school dropouts or working or walking and sleeping on the streets, with the sky as their blanket and the earth their bed to lay their head. The stars twinkle, but there are too many to count. And they do not know how to count!

"The progress of any society can be gauged by the freedom and rights enjoyed by women in that society" wrote Engels. Today we must say that the development of any society can be gauged by the absence of Child labour in that society…And Child labour is modern slavery. A society with a rich heritage and legacy, modern sensibility and technological advancement cannot depend upon a hundred million pairs of tiny hands to produce its wealth and thrive on it!?

Abolish this child slavery.
Let our children play and learn in schools and colleges. Said Nobel laureate Amarteya Sen; "Only when Primary education becomes a fundamental right will there be social and economic development of India." Easier said than done. There are so many such laws and resolutions that sound well, but meagerly realized. Education empowers. Until the voluntary spirit of the people takes up this task of educating and empowering our children, changes in the social pattern will be a distant dream. The free wandering, working child slaves are fettered to the new pharaoh of capital, the new empire, the global goblin called globalization! The child slaves have to be liberated through education and empowerment.

Spartacus Returns!
Spartacus returns is a sound and light spectacle which addresses the question of liberation of the working children of the world. It seeks to create history of the working children drawing a parallel with Spartacus in the 1st century BC fighting Roman Imperialism and the modern Child slaves fighting Globalization! And its neglect of children's dreams. It also exemplifies child power and child empowerment.
There are about 200 actors and artists drawn from working and street children. School children, College students stage actors. Students of Martial arts schools, gymnastic schools, music schools and the most important of them are the Liberated Bonded labor
Children. The theatrical presentation and sets has been created through Ideological and Artistic workshops, involving Children, Artists, Dancers, Musicians, Sculptors, Painters, Rural school children and people….

Freed bonded laborer Children play Spartacus
Bonded laborers continue the lineage of ancient slavery as it existed and prevailed in the times of Spartacus. In modern India it persists as a critical problem. Freed Bonded labor children who are the inheritors of the spirit and soul of Spartacus play an important part
as liberators in Spartacus returns.

High Drama of liberation
The sets are dramatic and recreate authentic Roman times representing the Empire. The gladiator arena for entertainment. The Mount Vesuvius spews fire and erupts. The great battles of slaves and Romans will be enacted! Stilt walkers, Fire throwers, Child choreographers and dancers in high action. Spartacus returns to free the working children from toil. He is so historically needed as the ultimate symbol of the struggle against all forms of slavery.

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