A stage for all

Updated: Jul 28, 2020, 11:33 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

From rhythm workshops to baking sessions, an online children's theatre festival has something for everyone

Glimpses from previous editions of the festival
Glimpses from previous editions of the festival

Thespian Ramanjit Kaur, who resides in Kolkata, is a firm believer in the fact that the arts play a significant role in inculcating crucial life skills in children. So, it's not a surprise that Dramebaazi, the annual festival hosted by The Creative Arts (TCA), Kaur's theatre training initiative, goes beyond the elements of the stage to curate all kinds of events, from addressing mental health to baking.

In its third year, this is the first time that the three-day festival, which kicks off on July 31, has gone online and international, roping in professionals from the UK, US, Sri Lanka and Iran, among other countries. "The feel of this festival is actually that of a carnival, complete with fun and frolic, which is why you have so many kinds of events. In fact, it is being handled by an army of individuals in the age group of 15 to 25, who learnt everything from curation to coordination," she says.

Glimpses from previous editions of the festival

The theme of this year's carnival, curated by Kaur and TCA course consultant Baisali Chatterjee Dutt, is environment and empathy. "It's important for kids to understand our relationship with the environment, and that if we don't protect nature, it won't love us back. The whole world is going through multiple challenges — of climate, finances, morality, etc. At such a point, empathy for each other, and for nature, becomes even more significant," explains Kaur. The performances and workshops are therefore curated around the theme of love, kindness, and eco-sensitivity. "We kick off Dramebaazi with a chat on mental well-being and how it's okay to not be okay, organised by youth organisation NoNorma. Then, there's a DIY podcasting workshop by RJ Jimmy Tangree, poet Sunil Bhandari and a student, Michelle Rajan, who will talk about confessions, listening and eavesdropping. In a baking workshop called 1 cup of sugar and 2 cups of love, baker Rubani Singh will share tips and narrate stories about empathy," Kaur illustrates.

Apart from this, she adds, Muhlenberg College from the US will conduct a café-style chat session on the sense of belonging and home, dancer Paramita Saha will teach kids to explore environmental themes through movement, and UK-based artistes Christine Urquhart and Zoe Bullock will encourage them to think about isolation and their loved ones through a story. "There's also a lot of emphasis on listening and understanding, so we have a gamut of sound and rhythm workshops by singer Ritika Sahni and actor Dana Lai Roy from India, and Sri Lanka-based musician Soundarie David Rodrigo," Kaur tells us. And these are just a few of the 24 events, that also include live plays on Zoom from across the world, puppetry, kalaripayattu and even filmmaking. "In the run up to the festival, we've also started some webinars, that address important questions on art and education," Kaur shares. But at the end of the day, she insists it's still a carnival. "So, let's try to enjoy and spread cheer in these challenging times," she signs off.

(From left) Baisali Chatterjee Dutt and Ramanjit Kaur
(From left) Baisali Chatterjee Dutt and Ramanjit Kaur

From July 31 to August 2
Log on to insider.in
Cost Rs 499 (season pass for the festival)

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