Meet a Kanpur storyteller who is rewriting classic fairy tales and introducing them to children with a twist
Was Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk really a hero worthy of applause for stealing from a giant and bringing death upon him? What if Goldilocks wanted to chop off her infamous golden locks and rock a bob instead? And was Little Red Riding Hood an independent witty young lady who would take on the Big Bad Wolf, without any help from the hunter? Many parents would have grown up with the same fractured fairy tales, but are now keen that their children revisit them with a twist.
One of them is Rohini Vij, a professional storyteller who started Fairytale Theatre. She runs content creation and ed-tech company Nutspace, which specialises in developing curriculum and content that uses storytelling to equip children with 21st-century skills and values.
In every session Rohini Vij uses props, ice-breakers, songs and dance to engage little ones in storytelling; Vij enacts Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood
Using this theatre platform, she has created pre-recorded performances where she acts out iconic fairy tales. With striking backdrops that recreate the woods and scenic countrysides that these stories are set in, she also uses various tools like ice-breakers, music, song and dance to engage children between the age group of two and eight years.
"The idea isn't merely to glue your child to the seat for 55 minutes but help them have an immersive experience where they participate in acting out the story,"
She also emphasises how these performances — from Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Goldilocks and The Three Bears — have empowered characters.
"Our rewritten versions break age-old stereotypes. They tell little girls that their favourite characters aren't damsels in distress. They are smart, quick on the feet and courageous. Similarly, they tell little boys that it is okay to reach out for help when you are struggling," shares Vij.
Explaining why these sessions are pre-recorded, she says that it gives parents the freedom to pause and re-watch the videos, considering the short attention span of kids in the age bracket.
No episode jumps into the story right away. Instead, it begins with activities for a build-up. "Our episodes are focused on helping children build confidence and overcome their inhibitions, and contribute to early language development. We begin with breathing and calming exercises and follow it with a few theatre exercises that focus on facial expressions and body language. An original track about creativity sets the mood next. And children are encouraged to dance to it," she says. After the warm-up, the narrator uses the power of visualisation to help them step into the story and enjoy.
Another interesting aspect is asking parents to gather a list of props before any session commences, so kids are in their element when they enact the story with the on-screen performer. Whether it is a golden painted egg or a badminton racquet as a pretend guitar, these props are easily accessible at home.
Vij feels that as the pandemic continues to make learning highly dependent upon parents, they can use this time to read to their kids. They can also engage in role play and visualisation to focus on their children's social and emotional development. "Yes, the pandemic has been tough on adults, but it has been far more difficult for kids. Stories are a good way to tackle anxiety and help them," she
On October 13, all-day long
Log on to bookmyshow.com
Cost Rs 99 onwards
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