~Liberation of Working, Street and Bonded
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
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
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 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.