It is child's play

Sep 08, 2011, 10:39 IST | Priyanjali Ghose

Exploring child psyche, the English play Robi's garden brings on stage a side of Tagore that's little known

Did you know that a major part of iconic Bengali playwright and poet Rabindranath Tagore's work is about children? Priyalakshmi Rao, the director of the English play Robi's Garden confesses that she did not. In the run up to  the poet's 150th birth anniversary, the city has witnessed several of his plays in the last few months. However, most of them concerned adult sensibilities. But Robi's Garden will unfold a never-seen-before side of Tagore, claims Rao. Vijay Padaki has translated six short stories and poems by Tagore for the Bangalore Little Theatre production.

The cast of the play; Subramaniam as Aryan

Rao describes Robi's Garden as a collage of stories that bring out Tagore's understanding of a child's mind and treating them as 'not children but little people.' She says, "It shows how children are immediately able to understand abstract so-called adult concepts like pretence and so on. They pick up the basic message even if they don't understand it completely."

Robi's Garden, according to Rao, also draws inspiration from Shey (He), a piece that Tagore wrote to satisfy his nine-year-old granddaughter's never-ending demand for stories. To impart an essence of bygone era, the play begins from the Jorashanko Thakurbari, Kolkata, where Tagore was born. The audience thus will get a glimpse of his  growing up years and his involvement in Jatra, a popular Bengali folk theatre form. Interspersed with various fun rhymes that chronicle tales like how shoes came into existence, Robi's Garden explores issues like death but with a touch of humour. Rao, says that typically children's stories are either fun ones or with serious undertones. But Tagore breaks this tradition.

Stressing that Tagore's work is relevant even after 150 years, Rao says, "Tagore's style of writing for children marries both styles. It is fun to read and at the same time has amazing profundity. He does not talk down to children."

Rao also reveals that bright colours have been used for the set to bring out the mirth inherent in Tagore's works for children. Storytelling also will be a prominent part of Robi's Garden, in which one actor will enact more than one role.  The stories will be essayed through animal and human characters and the actors will swap roles with the help of the props that would be kept on stage, shares Rao.

Where Ravindra Kalakshetra, JC Road
On September 9, 6.30 pm;Nanak Bhavan, off Cunningham Road, Vasanthanagar;
From September 10 to 13, 7.30 pm
MLR Convention Centre, Brigade Millennium, JP Nagar; September 15, 16 and 18, 7.30 pm
the guide bangalore,English play Robi,Tagore,Exploring child 98456 02265
For Rs 150

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