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Mumbai for kids: A visit to the Prithvi Theatre in Juhu

Mumbai kids

>>> Prithvi Theatre  Juhu
The atrium fills with people. The chatter of kids is incessant. In the well of the atrium is a stage strewn with books and other articles of a home. The bell rings and the lights go out. Instinctively, there is a hush. When the lights are back, it is on the stage and the fun starts. Prithvi Theatre is an ideal place that dedicates its work to the children of Mumbai.

I’m here with my kids for the first time. “A play!” scowls my daughter. They are used to 3D movies in multiplexes and entertaining outdoor spaces. A play is something they are unfamiliar with and it seems to be an unworthy fun-agenda for the week. “What is a play?” asks my son. 

As the play begins, it’s fun to watch the faces of children, mine including, shrieking with delight when the actors tell their story and elicit participation. Every child wants to answer the query posed by the actors. Half the time the audience — the children and adults — are in splits. 

Kids having a blast at Prithvi.
Kids having a blast at Prithvi. PICS COURTESY/Manish Mansinh

Prithvi Theatre is a subsidiary of a trust created to promote theatre in India. Built by actor Shashi Kapoor in memory of his father Prithviraj Kapoor in 1978, the space hosts workshops, play and is a space where theatre people can rehearse. Growing with the theatre is the famous Prithvi Café and its famous cutting chai, the Prithvi bookstore and the Prithvi Gallery. Every November, the theatre becomes home to the annual Prithvi Theatre Festival, with a theme that changes every year.

Every summer — from April to all of June — the theatre brings out a range of plays especially for children. If you are part of the mailing list of Prithvi you will see the wide array of plays that are on show. Titled Summertime@Prithvi, plays are planned and put up targeting children from the age of three onwards.

Plays for children are programmed at 11 am and 3 pm to 12 pm and 4 pm, all week during the season. Summertime@Prithvi is aimed at exposing children to the wonders of theatre and in the bargain, creating a future audience who appreciate, understand and love theatre.

At the end, the kids are invited on stage to dance with the actors and the children surge on the dais to dance and chat. When the lights come up we stream to Prithvi café where apart from the usual fare, kids can tuck into smileys, Masala French fries with cheesy dips and assorted sandwiches, made especially for children.

Rating: 4/5

Guide book

Where: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu Church Road, 20, Janki Kutir, Vile Parle (W). 
Getting there: If you take the train, alight at Vile Parle or Santacruz (W) station on the Western Railway. BEST routes (84L, 203, 230, 619L, etc) and autorickhshaws ply to the area.
Timings: Tuesday to Sunday; most shows are at 6 pm or 9 pm. The play we attended was at 4 pm. It’s best to check show timings on prithvitheatre.org

Charges: We paid Rs 300 per head. However, ticket prices can vary from Rs 150 to Rs 350
Food: Yes, at the Prithvi cafe and around.
Water: Yes
What’s good: Drop by Prithvi for a play or just hang around to absorb the creative vibe. It’s a beautiful place to introduce children to Indian theatre. It is also a stickler for time, and its nice to show children how once the timer buzzes late comers will not be allowed to step inside.
What’s not good: No place to park your vehicle.

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