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The fine art of balancing

Nandikar is one of the few theatre groups in the city to explore how children can indulge in theatre and other forms of creative expression while coping with academic and social pressures. Keeping this in mind, the group organised ‘Theatre and Children’s Voice’ at Sisir Mancha on October 10 and 11.

The event was inaugurated by Christina Nygren of the Swedish Centre of the International Theatre Institute, which is behind the Children’s Voice theatre project in Asia that began in 2004 and will end this year. The sessions included discussions between children’s theatre activists, teachers, government officials from Vietnam, Sweden, Bangladesh and India, with plays staged in the evening.

The event began with an interaction with Vietnamese theatre activists, many of whom want to continue working even after the project closes. While Bich Bgoc of Small Stage Drama Theatre, Ho Chi Minh City, said she would use theatre to help young people love traditional art forms, Hoang Duan of Ho Chi Minh Drama Theatre narrated his experience of using theatre to communicate with dying children in holocaust hospitals.

The evening drew to a close with a poetry collage, titled Hariye Jete Nei Mana.

During the seminar on Day II, titled ‘Children’s theatre in schools and elsewhere’, theatre director and actor Kaushik Sen asked activists to consider whether they “think of children or the funds while choosing to do a child theatre project.”

Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri suggested that in the rural schools, folk art traditions may be used for education: “Children have the resilience of tortoises and their creative urges find a way out.”

The closing play for the event was Ahare Shaisab, a funny yet horrifying vision of a topsy-turvy world where children, bent by academic pressure, have the diseases of the old while adults are young and fit enough to indulge in “childishness”.

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