Friday, November 21, 2014

Out of Crèche



As Jashn-e-bachpan comes to a close in New Delhi, a look at plays that stood out in the 12-day festival of theatre for children.

Jashn-e-bachpan, the National Theatre Festival For Children, organised by Theatre-in-Education, National School Of Drama on its campus ended with the staging of two plays – “Hum Ek Hain” and “Swami Vivekanand” – this past week, which marked a great leap towards coming of age of the children theatre movement in the Capital.

Arguably, for the first time on Delhi stage a record number of several thousand audiences witnessed 12-day festival featuring 30 plays in different languages at three venues – Abhimanch, Bahumukh and open-air lawns. What is most heartening is the presence of children belonging to different social strata. Special arrangements were made to bring children from schools to the venue of the festival.

The NSD campus, which was given a festive look by Bansi Kaul, eminent stage director and designer, was full of life and colour. One of the laudable aspects was even the plays in regional languages were staged to a capacity hall, thanks to their aural and visual charm and brilliance of the direction. If creative efforts like Jashn-e-bachpan are made on a large scale, covering regions across the country, it will make children theatre a cultural and educational force. This was also an occasion to celebrate the silver jubilee year of TIE – Bal Rang Toli, which has been striving for artistic excellence in plays for children and building up audiences for these dramatic arts.

The plays marked a variety of presentational styles and genres. Though some were specially tailored for children, the majority of productions were sophisticated and some dealt with serious issues that plague Indian society. The dominant impression one had after seeing most of the plays with the child audience was one of the thematic variety reflecting the change in Indian theatre for children, moving from folktales and fantasy to socially relevant themes that children theatre practitioners earlier used to avoid.

Directed by Danish Iqbal and presented by Sada Arts Society, Allahabad, “Hum Ek Hain” deals with communal violence that affects every aspect of social and economic life of the people, especially rupturing the life of the children and women, giving way to living in ghettoes. An adaptation from “Par Humein Khela Hai”, the play contains some of the situations depicted in the production of the original directed by Mohan Agashe for Theatre-in- Education about three decades ago which was inspired by Grips Theatre, Germany. It’s a kind of a theatre for children that is bold enough to present sharp social antagonism by adult performers for children. This theatre aims at not only to entertain young people but make them aware of social ills that are eating into the vitals of social fabric.

Iqbal’s production enhances its emotional appeal with the use of lyrics set to lively music score by Gagan. The lyrics were written by Iqbal. The production is neat, aptly acted and admirably mounted.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival was the presentation of “Swami Vivekanand”, a puppet play produced by Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal, Udaipur, Rajasthan founded by Devilal Samar, folklorist and exponent of folk theatrical art and its aesthetic values. Jointly directed by Dr Laique Hussain and Shyam Mali, the script is imaginatively written with focus on the most important episodes from the life of Vivekanand.

Instead of following the usual chronological order of Vivekanand’s life, the play enacts episodes in the form of storytelling by a grandfather to his grandson. The action shifts from present to the past and again to the present. The script is written by Dr Hussain with economy of words, focusing on visuals.

Apart from the powerful moral lesson that the production conveys without being didactic, the fascinating aspects of the play was the creative use of traditional kathputli-puppetry theatre of Rajasthan. The colourful costumes, the finely carved out characters from wood and the dialogue rendered by the puppeteers, perfectly synchronising with the movements of the puppet characters who move with remarkable agility. The production also is an innovative theatrical piece to present a serious play through kathputli which is mostly known for providing entertainment to the children evoking laughter through various antics the puppets perform.

“Kalakar Kee Khoj”, which was staged by Kaladham, Jharkhand under the direction of Goutam Gope, highlights the need for entertainment for children and brings out the inherent creativity in a child by providing him or her a platform. It also shows the necessity of art in social life. The most thrilling sequence of the production is the one in which the children performers present vigorous and lyrical dance, a folk form, in colourful costumes.


Beautiful stage compositions, soulful live music, aesthetically designed costumes and narrative blending folk elements with contemporary concerns make “Thathamaram” (The Parrot Tree) a joyous theatrical experience. Directed by Chandradasan and produced by Lokdharmi-Mazhvillu, Kerala, the production is remarkable for its aesthetic beauty and director’s ability to provide its large cast an opportunity to act in a spontaneous way recreating varied situations which are at once serious and amusing, griping the attention of the audience. The way the story of parrot tree is revealed is fascinating.

Yet another group from Kerala, Rangachetana featured its splendid production “Manthrika Kannadi” that depicts the interesting folk tale to convey the complex message of the necessity of communication between the outer self and inner self of an individual through the metaphor of magical mirror, beautifully rendered songs, performers’ movements, formation of visuals which creates stunningly expressive situations. The production thrills, amuses and makes aware the audience to explore the inner moral self to protect oneself and society from the onslaught of vulgar materialistic forces. It is directed by K.V. Ganesh, the script writer and artistic director of Rangachetana.

21DFR_KANU_2213317g Nandikar, Kolkata presented “Kanu”, which is based on a Vietnamese short story entitled “A Manly Boy” (Kiem) by Ma Van Khang which is directed by Swatilekha Sengupta. Intensely dramatic, imbued with vitality, the play is cantered round the life of Kanu, a young boy who loves his freedom and his trials and tribulations in the course of life’s journey through a world full of violence, apathy and faceless vindictive forces.

Entertaining, educative and playful are the words that convey the essence of Bharari (non-verbal) presented by Natyashala Charity Trust, Mumbai under the joint direction of Bharat More and Anvay Ashtivikar. Though the play depicts the evolution of man from primitive stage to modern one through movements, mime, stage compositions, the serious account is revealed with liveliness. A lyrical undercurrent runs throughout the show projecting different stages of the development of human civilization. The mime part is enacted by hearing-impaired performers, displaying remarkable agility.

21DFR_BOY_2213316g One of the best productions of the festival was “The Boy Who Stopped Smiling” presented by Working Title, Mumbai and directed by Jaimini Pathak that has striking relevance to problems of youngsters and a satire on an insensitive society unable to understand the psyche of young people. The production is sleek, highly educative offering hilariously funny moments to the audience. It has all the elements – lyrics set to lively tunes, simple and delightful dance movements, suspense, pathos and happy ending – the children simply love to enjoy. The moments of acute anxieties are juxtaposed with light-hearted hilarity and the acting style ranges from realistic to farcical. The writer is Ramu Ramunathan of Comorade Kumbhkarna fame who deserves praise for his significant dramatic piece.

“Unity is strength” is the message conveyed by Apundna Pangalni with animal characters. Directed by N. Jadumani Singh, the most impressive feature is colourful costumes, variety of masks to represent different variety of animals, including lions and birds. The illusion of a dense forest is created with the creative use of glossy satin in lush green colour illuminated by skilful lighting. It transcends language barrier because of its highly expressive visuals and dramatic action performed by actors in the costumes and masks of wild animals which are favourite with children.

“Geete Gathe Milan Mala” directed by Bhagirathi and presented by Seagull, Assam captures the village life of Assam focussing on an elderly couple and people of the village that assemble daily near a well in front of the house of the couple. It is remarkable for delightful music and delicately rendered dances by women narrating a story with twists and turns.

Mayur Rangmanch, U.P staged “Laakh Ki Naak” under the direction of Shashikant Sharma. A moral parable, it offers the children thoughtful and delightful moments

Courtesy - The Hindu - FEATURES » FRIDAY REVIEW -November 20, 2014

Updated: November 20, 2014 18:10 IST

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Seminar on Childrens Theatre at NSD, New Delhi

jashne bachpan 2014 Sankar Rang Toli (Theatre in Education Co) of National School of Drama is celebrating 25 years of its existence with children. Along with ‘Jashne Bachpan, The National Theater festival for children at NSD, that takes place from 2nd Nov to 14th , a drama seminar entitled Theatre for Children: Whose need is it?’ is organized. The seminar is from 12 Nov to 14th. The schedule of the seminar is given below.



Time : 10.00 to 10.50 am.

Presided over by: Waman Kendre

Welcome address: Abdul Latif Khatana

Key note: Rudraprasad Sengupta


Time : 11.00 to 1.00 pm.

In Chair : Kirti Jain

Speakers: Mohan Agashe , Jayati Bose and Sanjana Kapoor


Time : 2.00 – 3.00 p.m.

In Chair : Dadi Pudumji

Speakers : Raja Bhattacharya  and K.G. Krishnamurthy


Time : 3.10 – 4.10 p.m.

In Chair : Tripurari Sharma

Speakers : Shaili Sathyu and Chandradasan



Time : 10.00 – 11.25 am

In Chair : Faisal Alkazi

Speaker : Suwaran Rawat, and V. K Sharma


Time : 11.35 – 1.00 pm

In Chair : Ms. Swatilekha

Speaker : Walter Peter,  Kiran Sharma and Manish Saini


Time : 2.00 to 4.00 pm

In Chair Asha Singh

Speaker :Bhagirathi, Kanchan Sontake and Mridul Singh



Time : 10.00 – 11.25 am

In Chair : Kirti Jain

Speaker :Sandeep Sethi, Pawan Sudhir and Asha Singh


Time : 11.35- 1.10 pm

In Chair Bansi Kaul

Speaker :Vani Tripathi and G.S. Channi

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thathamaram (The Parrot-Tree) travels to Delhi.

thathamaram (6) Thathamaram (Parrot-Tree) performed by Mazhavillu the children’s theatre of Lokadharmi travels to New Delhi to participate in Jashne-Bachpan, the national children’s theatre Festival of India organised by NSD. The play will be performed in Abhimanch at 05.00 pm on 06th November 2014. This is one of the 25 plays invited for this festival.

Thathamaram is written, designed, choreographed and directed by Chandradasan, with Bijibal M doing the music, Set & Properties by Bhanuvajanan, Costumes by Rema K Nair, Lighting design by Srikanth, Art by Shobha Menon, Live music by, Subrahmanian, and Niranj Madan, Sound by Jebin Jesmes, Direction Assistance by Shaiju T Hamza, and Media Management and group leadership by Madan Kolavil.

This is the Fourth performance of the play

This play is developed from a folk tale which is extrapolated to throw light into contemporary reality. The story is about a parrot tree which is mysterious in many ways; it speaks in unknown languages, whispers and cries, and has flowers with an incandescent smell that penetrates deep into the human cell. The tree says “I am a tree, am a bird, am the smell, and am the sweetness. Dreams of this native land are buried deep beneath me.” This tree epitomizes the archaic myths about a tree that grows in the far deep forest with its fruits used as medicine that cures all sorts of illnesses. It has a rhythm that ticks the natural cycles to vibrate and resonate mutually and keeps the life moving ahead. This tree is visible only to the wisdom of birds.

thathamaram (7) Once, the King of the land is infected with a mysterious illness, and somnambulism. As he dwells deep into sleep, malicious, evil and vicious spirits and creatures that were buried for ages underneath the earth are reborn and resurrected. They craw into the dreams of all and one and disturb the balance of life processes. Everyone else including the princess loses sleep… “The evil species danced around in ecstasy; hunger and famine spread all over. New diseases sprang up. Untimely downpour of heavy rain and incessant storm; holes appear in the sky…Earth gets sunburns … Seasons loses their rhythms; all calculations go off the track…Rainwater tastes bitter… Severe summer of tragedies…

Princess could not sleep… The evil creatures danced around the princess day and night… she could not close her eyes for a moment… Suddenly, song of a little parrot that flew from the forest soothes the princess… The evil species cannot stand the bird’s song and they fly away from it. After a few days the parrot returned to the forest to visit her parents. Little parrot told her parents about the misery in the palace in her absence. To put an end to the wretchedness in the kingdom, the wise father parrot went deep into the forest and brought the mysterious mythical fruit that can heal any illness, sacrificing his life in this act. The little parrot has to gift this fruit to the King and on eating this; the trauma that had filled him and the nation will be cured.

thathamaram (8) On its way back to the castle with the fruit, the little parrot gets tired and dozes off for a while on a leafless tree. The evil species residing on the same tree spits venom and poison into the fruit. Then they rush to the palace and inform the king that the parrot is coming with a poisonous fruit to kill the king. The king in turn asks the little parrot to taste the fruit first, before he eats it. The parrot tastes it and dies. On the King’s orders, the dead parrot and the poisonous fruit are buried in a distant desert.

After a gap of many years, it rained continuously for three days in the desert, and then the parrot tree sprouted. It grew into a Tall Tree with enchanting flowers and fruits; but the people shy away as they are afraid of the poison...

Finally an old couple depressed by loneliness and many diseases, arrives there, they decide to end their lives by eating the fruit of the tree. But to the dismay of everyone, the fruit did not kill them, but they were rejuvenated and freed from their agonies.

The play connects the experiences of the present day as well as of the past with the myths, hearsay, folklore, tradition, legends, cultures and the flora and fauna of Kerala. It reinforces the rhythmic continuity of human life with trees, birds, and other living and non-living entities. The story creates a world which flows between real, surreal and mythical; all fused together to form a plasma of magical, dream like fantasy. The story is narrated direct and simple in a transparent, poetic and candid style to create a cosmos of exuberance, earthiness, and fantasy, where various elements co-exist, mutually complementing and completing.

thathamaram (9) The performance uses music, songs, movement and choreography accentuated by the use of simple properties and a narration with simultaneous enactment and characterization. Use of imaginative sets, properties and music suggests the space, characters, time, as well as the cultural/ political implications of the play. The performance language is designed so as to give space for creativity and expression of the histrionic talent of the children, the whole process of rehearsal providing an exhilarating experience to the little actors; the scheme of rehearsal and play making being equally important as the final product.

The Artists Traveling To Perform are Gowri Murali , Gouri Krishna A , Jeyasuriyaa M.A , Anju Joan, Malavika Murali , Krishna Radhakrishnan, Rose Sherin Ansary , Arun A , Hemanth Menon , Unnimaya Edanilath , Jayabhami Jayachandran , Ramakrishnan Lokanathan , Chelcy Johny , Unnimadhav Edanilath , Yedhukrishna K.V , Niranjana Kishan , Saswath Gopan, Bhanuvajanan , Subrahmanian, Niranj Madan, Jebin Jesmes, Shaiju T Hamza, Anu Gopinath, Madan Babu and Chandradasan.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Pooja wins Scholarship for young artists in Theatre from Department of Culture.

POOJA MOHANRAJ (4) Pooja Mohanraj of Lokadharmi Theatre Kochi, INDIA is selected for the award of Senior Scholarship in for the year 2013-14 under the scheme of Award of Scholarship to Young Artistes in drama/Theatre. The scholarship is for an advanced training in physical theatre under Chandradasan, director of Lokadharmi for the next two years.
Pooja was getting their training in theatre from Mazhavillu, the children’s theatre wing of Lokadharmi when she was 11 years old and later continued in Lokadharmi.  She was part of the productions Panjarasala (by BV Karanth, dir. Chandradasan), Alibabayum 40 Kallanmarum (by Chandrasekhar Kambar, dir Chandradasan), girl in the photograph (written and directed by Shirly Somasundaran ) and Tom and Jerry (by Arun Pr Pr, dir Sudheerbabu Sankunni ) for Mazhavillu
She has decided to continue with theatre and is pursuing MTA in Schoolofdrama Thrissur after completing B.A. Economics Honours from Lady Shri Ram College for Women. She was actively involved in Delhi college theatre circle, on-stage and off-stage. Have performed street plays in various public spaces in Delhi and also directed for Goethe Institute/ max Mueller Bhavan collegiate theatre festival organised as an Indo German collaborative project.
Her major production include Egle and Cleopatra (a one actor performance based on Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and a Lithuanian myth written designed and directed by Chandradasan for Lokadharmi Theatre Kochi, INDIA, Andorra (by Max Fritz directed by Kumara Varma ), reflections (by Mahesh Elkunchwar) accidental death of an anarchist (by Dario Foe), butter and mashed bananas (Ajay Krishnan, Neel Choudhury), burn (based on Ibsen’s works directed by Neel Choudhury for Ibsen festival), Ubu Roi (by Alfred Jarry, directed by Chandradasan for Lokadharmi etc. She did Workshops: David Zinder (Israel), Prof. S. Ramanujam, Kumara Varma, Kalamandalam Prabhakaran , TM Abraham, Ramesh Varma, Gopan Chidambaram, Venuji, Anne Dubos (France), Neel Choudhury, Anirudh Nair etc.
She had in many festivals including NIPA international children’s theatre festival (attended twice), Ibsen theatre festival, old world theatre festival, Soorya festival, Sam festival (NSD), Rangaprabadh festival etc. egle and cleopatra premiere  (181)
She was hospitality coordinator for itfok2014.
With this Scholarship Pooja is are joining the band of Lokadharmi actors, Premdas AT, Sudheer Babu, Zumesh Chittooran , Joseph Tito, Pradeep Sukumar , Soumya CP, Priyaraj Govindraj G, Vinay Forrt, Nandini R Nair, Harikrishnan Sanu , Sukanya Shaji ,and Shaiju T H Sh who had won this scholarship earlier.

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