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Let the kids play

Updated on: 15 March,2022 08:12 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Tanishka D’Lyma |

Join in the celebrations for World Children’s Theatre Day with an event that promotes interest in drama among young audiences

Let the kids play

Mister Jeejeebhoy and the Birds at the NCPA in 2014

Costumes, colourful backdrops, and props that are either stand-ins or fashioned right out of thin air — the stage is the grander production of a make-believe game. And who understands the ropes of a playful pretence better than a child? The theatre is indeed meant for children. If you thought otherwise, here are two cases for it — Mister Jeejeebhoy and the Birds, and Warp and Weft — that celebrate World Children’s Theatre Day on March 20.

Sananda  Mukhopadhyaya and Shaili Sathyu
Sananda  Mukhopadhyaya and Shaili Sathyu

Shaili Sathyu, theatre practitioner and artistic director of Gillo Repertory Theatre, introduced children to Mister Jeejeebhoy and the Birds back in 2013. Adapted from a children’s book by Anitha Balachandran, Sathyu’s play incorporates layers of interaction. There is no fourth wall because at different intersections, actors encourage the young audience to get on stage to help Mister Jeejeebhoy look for the missing birds or hop onto another adventure. The director says, “Throughout the play, we respond to the audience and give them agency.” The production is a free set often performed on an open ground, and with a fluidity of props where children holding rope become passengers in a bus. She says, “Children are very giving and accepting of an imaginative scene and setting.”

A scene from Warp and Weft
A scene from Warp and Weft

Extending this artistic experience to a younger audience of six to 24 months is Warp and Weft that is directed and performed by Sananda Mukhopadhyaya. The art-based educator and theatre-maker explains that children’s theatre or theatre for early years need not be educational. Instead, it is an artistic process that opens one’s senses and mind to a larger human experience. Warp and Weft, a story of a child up to mischief at a fabric store, is a wordless production that focuses on movements and objects. Mukhopadhyaya uses fabric, incorporating the world of a baby — largely associated with textile in the form of pillows, cloth toys, and blankets — into the fantastical. The 20-minute play is filled with whimsical sounds and dynamic movement, with original music by Kaizad Gherda. Mukhopadhyaya is swaddled in colourful cloth with an oversized turban from which she pulls out cloth toys. She says, “Understanding is not necessary for an artistic experience — being able to invest yourself and engage by looking, listening, touching, and feeling are important early life experiences that the arts can provide.”

On: March 20; Warp and Weft, 11 am Mister Jeejeebhoy and the Birds, 4 pm
At: Harkat Studios, Andheri West
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Cost: Rs 200 onwards

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