May 2016

Yes. It is summer. And yes, it is time for children's theatre. And it is heartening to see that there are so many theatre workshops and shows happening in May. 

Recently I came across another feature by Lyn Gardner talking about the role of theatre in introducing children to the real world. She contends that "just as we must not be ruled by fear and must let our children go out on their own and make their own decisions, so should we let them go into that safest of arenas - the theatre - and confront the issues that they have to face in the real world." I think there is a lot of merit in this proposition. A few years back I watched the Ranga Shankara (Bangalore) - Schnawwl National Theatre (Mannheim) co-production of Boy With a Suitcase. The story brought to life a young boy's journey from his strife ridden homeland to the 'promised land', in this case London. He and his mother have to navigate security personnel, refugee camps, transient friendships, sexual exploitation and existential questions of identity and homeland. The production did not dumb down the play for younger audiences, did not gloss over issues like using sex to gain favours in matters of life and death and did not romaticise the characters or the situations. It was an important story honestly told. About hanging on to one's humanity in difficult times. About tough decisions. It is a story that needs the telling even more in 2016, when thousands are fleeing war torn nations in the hope that their children will have a stab at a future, at adulthood and ageing. It is then imperative that young audiences are also given a glimpse of the harsher realities of the world around them and the potential of creating/finding beauty in it. 

A lot of the shows this season are staged versions of popular Western children's classics that we have been reading and watching for the last 50 years. It is easy and financially smart to do the tried and tested with colourful costumes and a few catchy tunes. But, the time is ripe for children's theatre to grapple with more relevant stories. Fortunately we have plays like Growing Up (a play on puberty), Kyun Kyun Ladki (about a young curious mind) and Naeema Ek Udaan Ki Kahani (about a poor young girl wishing to help her father support the family). Children also need to be taken seriously. In fact more so, as we have a huge responsibility to guide them and support them as they grow up to become socially responsible adults. 

Hope to bump into some of you in the middle of the day at one of the children's shows. With ice candy and chocolate thick shakes to complete the experience! Please note:- Children's Plays and Workshops have been listed under separate tabs this month. 

Gitanjali shares her thoughts on Outer Dilli and Glenn takes us to Australia where he is preparing to commence work on a production of Howard Barker's Victory - Choices in Reaction. There are still some shows the grown ups can look forward to in Coming Up and quite a few acting workshops to choose from in Opportunities. Here's to a Merry May!

Toral.  

(Click here to read the complete Lyn Gardner piece from which the quote in the homepage banner was taken.)