A group of children aged four to 13, most of whom had never gone up on stage before, enacted three plays on Friday, showcasing skills picked up during a three-week summer workshop.
Parents discovered “actors” in their kids.
Some of the children surprised the adults with their confidence and ability to improvise.
The aim of the organisers of the programme was to help the children shed their inhibitions and stage fright and gain confidence, said Kavita Gupta, who headed the project. All the three plays were from the Tales from Arabian Nights and staged at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture.
“Will all the chairs be occupied?” an anxious seven-year-old asked the director during the stage rehearsal, a day before the final performance.
The next morning it was houseful — parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts turned up enthusiastically to see the young ones perform.
“In school, teachers choose students with whom it is easy to work. But here we make sure that every child is up on stage and gets significant attention,” said Gupta, founder of Mirror Workshops, which organised the summer workshop.
What Gupta demanded of the children and their parents was a commitment for three weeks — that no child would stay away from the sessions.
Mirror Workshops partnered with Curious Little, an activity centre, in organising the programme.
Gupta and Vandita Sanghvi, owner of Curious Little, started an initiative called All the World’s a Stage in 2018 to expose children to drama.
“Drama helps children express themselves and overcome their shyness and also improve their body language. Workshops like this would help parents know about their children’s creative sides,” said the father of Sitara Kaushik, a seven-year-old who took part in the workshop.
After the show, the mother of a 12-year-old walked up to the director to thank her. The girl was extremely shy and would barely speak, the mother said. She was given the part of narrating the play. “We see children’s confidence go up not just on stage but even otherwise. They learn to collaborate with each other and be a team player,” said Gupta.
For the first time Sonia Saraf saw her 12-year-old son Abhay Kumar on stage. “I never knew he could act as well,” said Sonia.
“Not just acting. The workshop also taught him to adapt to situations. Over the past month I have been seeing a change in him. He is taking down instructions very well,” said Saraf.
Gupta said the focus for many parents after the pandemic was more on academics. But that has gradually changed and the parents are letting the children be involved in other activities as well.