The Telegraph
Thursday , May 19 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tiny artistes enact witty tales
- Theatre workshop for children is organised by Bakul Foundation

Bhubaneswar, May 18: Nine-year-old Khushi saunters into a room mouthing Hindi dialogues pompously. Soon two children of her age scamper around her, with one of them bursting into an exclamation: “Huzoor, hukm kijiye” (Lord, tell me what can I do for you).

Don’t mistake Khushi for a bully. She is playing the role of Akbar, the great Moghul emperor, along with the two hangers-on fawning upon her, as part of a theatre workshop for children at Bakul Foundation here.

“I am enjoying playing the role of Akbar. I was looking forward to engaging myself in some meaningful activity during the summer break. This is exactly what I have wished for as I am passionate about acting,” said the Class IV student of Takshila School.

Apart from Khushi, 12 other children, aged between seven and 12, have turned up on the first day of the workshop, which is being conducted almost after two years at Bakul. Each of the kids has been assigned a role for enacting one of the witty tales of Akbar and Birbal. This play would be staged at the Bakul office on Sunday evening.

Young volunteers are leaving no stone unturned to make this a grand affair.

They are helping the kids with the nuances of acting, expression, dialogues, scene coordination and costumes. Sabita Patnaik, who runs a play school in the city, and Mahua Maharana, coordinator of the workshop, are also offering tips on acting.

The story is based on a poor villager who takes up Akbar’s challenge to stand in freezing water for an entire night to earn 1000 gold coins. After having successfully completed the challenge, the man meets the emperor to claim his reward. On being asked as to how he could stay dipped in the cold water all night long, he tells Akbar that he gazed at a lamppost until morning which had provided him warmth.

Akbar refuses to give him his prize saying that since he has got the heat from the lamp, he does not deserve the reward. The disappointed villager approaches Birbal who decides to teach the king a lesson. He invites Akbar to his place for dinner. But, despite waiting for more than three hours, no food is served. Impatient Akbar enters the kitchen only to find out that the cooking vessel is placed 10 feet away from the fire.

The emperor gets angry and asks Birbal how he could cook his food when the fire is such a great distance. Birbal then retorts: “The same way a man in a freezing pond can get warmth out of a lamppost from an equally great distance.” Akbar gets his lesson and rewards the villager richly.

“Theatre is the best way to hone the personality of a kid. We wanted to enact a play on a moral story combined with humour and wit. The kids are enjoying and so are we,” said Purnima Baid and Debi Prasad Sahu, volunteers at Bakul Foundation.

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