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Gurgaon Summer Theatre Festival: It’s a child’s play, quite literally

Gurgaon Summer Theatre Festival 2018 highlights toddler theatre, which is still in its nascent form in India.

art and culture Updated: Jun 17, 2018 15:12 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
A scene from the play Three Oriental Tales, which was staged as part of Gurgaon Summer Theatre Festival 2018.

How to explain to a toddler the significance of an angithi (traditional brazier used for cooking) in Japanese culture? Simple, take your little ones to watch a play at the ongoing Gurgaon Summer Theatre Festival 2018, which has three plays.

“We have performed these plays individually, but this is the first time that these stories created especially for toddlers have come together as a festival,” says Imran Khan, festival director. The first play, Three Oriental Tales was staged last Sunday and the coming two Sundays will have performances of two plays — My Room My World (for 2 years and above) and Yeh Duniya Rangeen (for one year and above).

A scene from the play My Room My World.

The play My Room My World revolves around a 6-year-old girl, the things in her room and her relationship with her father, whereas the play Yeh Duniya Rangeen explores primary and secondary colours using physical movements, sounds and a few objects, too.

But, if entertaining adults through theatre is difficult then amusing children via this medium is a Herculean task. “Since there is a lot of information involved, we thought we shouldn’t do a pure narration. Therefore, we added different costumes and visuals to keep the interest of children alive because this audience has the shortest span of attention,” says Khan.

“The idea was to introduce children with stories that not just entertain them but also introduce them to new cultures. We picked up three stories from three oriental countries, and all are folk tales. Folk stories also introduce the culture of a country; so in the Japanese story narrated as part of the first play, it was told that how important is the role of an angithi. Things like these are also a source of knowledge for children to learn about the geographical conditions of a place,” adds Khan.

A scene from the play Yeh Duniya Rangeen.

The actors, too, feel the pressure of performing for toddlers. Surangana Chatterjee, an actor with the group, says, “I had seen earlier performances where kids get so excited that they tend to come into the area of performance. How do you handle it? That was my biggest inhibition. But, when I performed the play last Sunday, thankfully none of the kids intruded the performance. In fact, as an actor I felt instant happiness because the minute I came on the stage — with socks hung from my ears and walking on all fours — the kids identified me playing the character of a dog. It was pure joy to see the spark in their eyes.”

But if these are children plays then don’t think that adults can’t watch them. “Because all of us have been through that age, and therefore these plays have a universal appeal,” says Khan.

  • What: Gurgaon Summer Theatre Festival 2018
  • Where: The Beehive, Sushant Lok, Gurugram
  • When: June 17 and 24
  • Timing: 7pm
  • Nearest Metro Station: Huda City Centre on Yellow Line

Interact with the author at Twitter/@HennaRakheja

First Published: Jun 17, 2018 15:11 IST