NSD lays out drama treat for kids

New Delhi: A panorama of 17 plays in nine languages will be staged over 11 days, renewing the National School of Drama`s commitment to urban theatre for children.

The theatre treat is part of the NSD`s bi-annual festival of urban theatre "Jashn-e-Bachpan," set to begin Nov 18. It will end Nov 28.

The festival will be presented by the Sanskar Rang Toli, an outreach programme for children created by the country`s premier theatre school.

Announcing the 11th edition of the festival here at a press conference, National School of Drama director Anuradha Kapur said the focus of the festival this year was on theatre by special children, with three performances from Assam, Bengal and Delhi.

"We live in our own world, but we don`t understand what happens in another`s world. The troupe from Bengal is made of children with speech and hearing impairment, but they have performed a play by Rabindranath Tagore so beautifully that it is an inspiration," Kapur said.

The play, "Dakghar (The Post Office)" directed by Susanta Mondal will be staged by students of Bodhir Bidya Bhawan from Bankura district Nov 18 at the inauguration of the festival.

The festival will be inaugurated by Mohan Agashe at Abhimanch, a performance space within the NSD.

Other productions in the programme include "Andharat Xihotor" from Assam, "Simhada Kathe" from Karnataka, "Pishi Mavshi" from Maharashtra, "Buddhuram" from Assam by special children, "Shahi Fitta Lal" from Sikkim, "Makkala Ravindra" from Karnataka, "Tushaarmala Deshe" from West Bengal, "Akaasapookal" from Kerala, "Meenam Charadi Laina Shao-E " and "The Kachre Tales", "Quixotic Wonderland" from Maharashtra, "Alibaba Mathu 40 Kallaru", "Jujubee" from Tamil Nadu, "Dastan-e-Dilli" by special children and "Across the Sea" from the capital.

The performers will begin their day with workshops, where children will "watch each other work" and discuss the productions, Kapur said.

"We want the children to speak to each other," she added.

"Watching and staging theatres give social sensitivity. Children should be exposed to theatre in school," the director of NSD said.

The ideal content of children`s theatre should be a balance between fairy tales and folk tales, "something which children enjoy," Kapur said.

For the last 23 years, NSD has taken the lead to promote theatre among children with a programme, Theatre in Education, that includes annual theatre festivals, travelling repertoires, summer workshops for children and theatre training for teachers.

The Sanskar Rang Toli - the core project of TIE - was set up in 1989 to bridge the gap between passive and active education.

The "toli" hosts to two festivals, "Jashn-e-Bachpan", urban theatre gala for children, and "Bal Samagam" - a festival of rural folk performances by children, alternately, every year.

"We also have a Sunday club where six amateur children gather to learn theatre making and stage devices every Sunday. If they like it, we carry it to the next level," Kapur said.