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Metaphor, but kids get it

Jan. 4: The lion is too pompous to take care of others, the jackal too cunning to be trusted. The poor ox does not realise that though he has dethroned the lion as the king of the jungle, he is actually being used as a pawn by the cunning jackal.

This is how the audience, comprising school students from the city, related to the characters of the play Raja Ki Khoj that tickled their fertile imagination. Their accurate observation of the portrayal of human nature through these animal characters amazed even the director and actors staging the play. The students had gathered at Rabindra Bhawan to participate in an interactive session with the JNMK theatre group from Haryana that is here to participate in the ongoing National Children’s Theatre Festival.

The interaction took place following the staging of Raja Ki Khoj by JNMK. The play, directed by Keshav Kumar, was staged again in the evening for the general audience.

“The lion did not take care of the other animals in the jungle and so it was good the ox became the king. But the jackal is very cunning and cannot be caught easily,” observed Samiran Borah, a Class VIII student.

The seven-day festival, that began yesterday, has been organised by the Guwahati Sishu Natya Vidyalaya, a local theatre group.

“Children can absorb an idea better if it is depicted through objects or characters. Then they can relate to it easily. In Raja Ki Khoj, we tried to satirise the power struggle and corrupt practices in society through animals of the jungle. Here, the lion represents the ruling class and the jackal portrays the multinational companies. The theme mainly deals with how the jackal plots and manages to dethrone the lion and make the ox the king for his own benefits,” said Ramesh, co-director of the play.

When asked by the actors on whether such characters existed in reality, the children replied in the affirmative.

“I enjoyed the play. There are many people as sly as the jackal around us. They harm the gullible ones and take advantage of them for their own benefits. However, they are so clever that they go scot-free most of the time and are never punished for their bad deeds,” said Rashmi Barua, a Class VI student.

To promote children’s theatre here, the organisers have approached a few schools with the request to include theatre in the school curriculum.

“Theatre is a medium in which the hidden talents of children find spontaneous expression. We have already approached a few schools to incorporate the classroom theatre programme in their curriculum. We have also conducted workshops at Maharshi Vidya Mandir, Army School at Narengi, Noonmati Central School and Sarla Birla Gyan Jyoti. On the first day, the children seemed to hesitate a bit but now they eagerly wait for the workshop,” said Rajiv Lochan Gogoi, secretary of the theatre group.