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Stage set for child’s play

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Katja Lindeberg in a scene from her clown act, If Only Rosa Could Do Magic.

Chandreyee Ghose   |   Calcutta   |   Published 26.11.19, 08:40 PM

A clown from Norway, a dance artiste and an arts educator from Australia, a dance theatre company and a professional storyteller from Scotland — a theatre festival for age three months to 18 years has all this and more to offer.

A real princess lost in her pink world of loneliness is what Norwegian artiste Katja Lindeberg depicted through her clown performance, If Only Rosa Could Do Magic. The show was part of the first edition of ThinkArts International Festival for Young Audience that took off on November 14.

Around 40 children aged above six, parents, artistes and theatre students trooped in as Lindeberg clad in a pink dress, riding a pink cycle and armed with lots of pink toys regaled the audience with her antics.

While the script was dripping in humour, the underlining story spoke of a sad child desperately yearning for the attention of her busy parents. Failure to create the right magic lands her with a dragon mother, in whom she finds solace.

“I wanted to talk about modern issues and also neutralise the role of gender in a child’s mind. So while my story is that of a princess and her pink world, boys end up identifying with the situation as much,” said Lindeberg on her first India tour.

Shaurya Virat Gupta of La Martiniere for Boys loved the performance. “I have seen clown acts before but this was different,” said the Class V student who had come with his friends.

Another top draw has been Chalk About, a show by Curious Seed from Scotland. A fusion of dance, theatre, storytelling and expressive movements, Chalk About is very visual experience.

“We had planned a playful show for children but adults identify with it as much,” said Christine Devaney, who had conceptualised the show.

Devaney and Hendrik Lebon have performed 130 times across the globe from Milan to the Sydney Opera House, before bringing their act to Calcutta.

“There are stories woven in the performance that talk about the relationship of the two performers and that with the audience. It highlights serious issues such as identity, perception and judgement in a playful tone,” Devaney said.

The festival has a range of performances for toddlers, too. Touch and Go presented by Sally Chance Dance from Australia entices, dares and entertains children in a playful environment.

The children are invited to enter a wonderful world of shapes and pathways, stepping stones and lines, with two friendly dancers and a live guitarist. Along the way, they are enticed to become part of the performance.

The opening act of the festival was a documentary theatre — Is This a Dagger? The story of Macbeth — performed by Andy Cannon and Red Bridge Arts of Scotland.

Cannon, Scotland’s award- winning storyteller, not only enacted the play on stage but also revealed some facts about Macbeth.

“We tried to bring a mixed bag of Indian and international performances. A festival of arts for young audience is necessary as it helps children grow, building on their empathy and creativity,” said Ruchira Das, the founder of ThinkArts.

The festival also offered a platform for discussion. “We need to know how much to tell and how to tell. How do we present violence, death or historical events such as Holocaust before a young audience with an impressionable mind? I suggested bringing in children as creative consultants during the making of a play meant for them. And never be didactic,” said Australian artiste Luke Kerridge of Barking Gecko.

The visiting artistes also exchanged notes. “I was looking forward to watching Lindeberg in action and learning from her,” said Kerridge.

Lindeberg herself addressed students at Presidency University on the scope of a theatre clown.

Additional reporting by Neha Singh


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