Kids living in cities these days are constantly busy with gadgets. You’ll rarely find them looking up from their smartphone screens and having a conversation among themselves in real life. Their idea of playtime with other kids is to participate in an online multiplayer game where they might, or most probably might not, know the other players personally. Now just imagine what would happen if a group of such urban children were sent to a village which has not been infiltrated with this new-age digital culture.
Trishla Patel’s play Wolf starts from there. But the narrative is not about a bunch of brats who crib and whine about no internet connection, but about how these kids go on an adventure to find a member of their group who was kidnapped by an evil wolf. Oh, and there is a lot of singing and dancing along the way too.
“I believe that you can put a child anywhere and they will adapt. Drop them in the middle of the jungle and they will make the best of it,” says Patel. The play will be staged as a part of the Curtains Up Theatre Festival organised by Entre Nous at Phoenix MarketCity from February 15-17.
She wrote the play about four years ago. “I was reading news about kidnappings in a village of the Korku tribals in Madhya Pradesh. I have also always been interested in wildlife. And around the same time the news of the kidnappings were on. I read about how wolves are becoming extinct in India. And then, since India is so full of superstitions, I thought of adding the tantric character who uses the evil wolf to kidnap children from the village,” she narrates, adding, “It’s interesting to see how these modern, city kids are forced to go to the village for a trip, fall into an adventure and try to save the kid who is nabbed,” says the director.
The roles of the kids are played by adult actors. Patel shares that the play would have been brilliant with kids acting as kids, but it is because they cannot make it to practice sessions regularly, or go on tour with her as her troupe to various cities as it would disrupt their school schedules that she chose to work with adult actors. However, two kids performed in an earlier staging of the play. “One kid played the role of Puck-Puck the chicken, and another one played the role of a goddess. But for this performance adults will be playing those roles as well,” she says.
Though the plot might seem grim, the execution promises to be fun. “My co-director Sukant Goel helped me a lot while starting the play. I don’t know how to play any musical instruments, so Rohit Das helped with the music. The set, designed by Teddy Maurya, is very important as it gives you a background of the village. There’s not much, just a hillock with some trees, but it brings the feel of the play,” she says.
The play is for children and adults alike, it is made to entertain everyone and has been successful in doing so. Children come back for a second viewing of the play because of the fun music. “Every time they come to see the play, they have different questions about it. The kids don’t even talk to the actor who plays the role of a wolf like a human being, they consider him a wolf,” says Patel, adding that such exposure to theatre is important for children. “What will your mind dwell on if you’re not exposed to art and culture? As you grow up, you get busy with other things, but even if an iota of these memories remain, you will come back to theatre later in your life,” she ends.