Children’s literature appeals to kids and adults alike, thanks to its strong visual imagery and simplistic language. So, when stories from this genre are presented through theatre, they make for some entertaining viewing. Shaili Sathyu, artistic director of Gillo Theatre Repertory, has been actively promoting short stories and novellas for kids through plays.
Sathyu says, “Being an avid reader, I was familiar with children’s literature and gradually started conducting workshops, and helming plays for kids in schools and art festivals. I decided to set up Gillo Gilehri to present plays that would not only entertain children but also instill good moral values in them.”
This year as part of the Summer Fiesta at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) and Summertime at Prithvi Theatre, her company is presenting five plays which are an eclectic mix of human relationships, fantasy, history and mythology. Sathyu says, “We wanted the productions to be enjoyable as well as informative. So we chose stories that cover diverse aspects of history but also provide ample scope to retell the stories through music.”
To make the productions more appealing for kids, Sathyu has also devised various techniques. For instance, in Mister Jeejeebhoy And The Birds, a play about a brother-sister duo who embark on a journey to rediscover themselves, Sathyu will prompt the actors to converse with the kids in the audience. Another production, Hanuman Ki Ramayan, portrays Hanuman’s take on the epic saga through music.
Taoos Chaman Ki Myna, adapted from Urdu writer Naiyer Masud’s story and directed by Atul Tiwari, is set in Lucknow and is about a father’s love for his daughter. Tiwari says, “Shaili had introduced me to the novella. I was so amazed by the story’s simplicity that I decided to direct it. We have retained the story’s essence and simplified some scenes for kids.” Apart from these, well-known plays such as Kyun Kyun Ladki, inspired by Mahashweta Devi’s story Why Why Girl and Granny’s Sari will also be staged.