I nitially, I didn’t want to be a part of the theatre workshop. But now, after the day’s workshop ends, I get bored,” says Daiwik Pande, a seven-year-old participant in Swatantra Theatre’s Winter Theatre Programme, which is currently underway in the city. His sister Riddhima adds, “It has been the most enjoyable experience. I like coming here for the workshop, doing different roles. This is my second home.”
Their mother, Shweta Pande, believes that the kids have discovered their true potential and confidence because of the workshop. “They have very well picked up the discipline of life through a fun way,” she explains.
Abhijeet Choudhary, founder of Swatantra Theatre, and one of the instructors at the workshop, believes that the involvement of children in such workshops will help them understand the ethics of leadership and the power of expression, besides gaining insight about the classic Indian literature.
Says he, “Many schools are now holding such workshops and classes so that the students are able to overcome their stage fears and face the audience as well as real life situations.”
It’s a combination of expression, thought process, design and team work which helps children build their personality and better themselves in terms of thinking. At the workshop, Choudhary and his team have included a line-up of theatre productions like Rabi Sansar, based on Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories, Malgudi Days, Chulbule Bulbule based on Ruskin Bond’s stories, Munshi Premchand’s Mansarovar, Tenali Ram and Akbar Ke Birbal.
The participants in the age group of six to 15 are narrated stories on which the plays are based, and are also roped in to play a few roles. “The participants are thus given training not only in acting but in various aspects of performances such as speech and diction, voice modulation, character building, dialogue delivery, body movement, memory, imagination, improvisation, rhythm and music,” adds Choudhary.
“Children grasp the nuances easily. They are ready to explore their talents unlike adults who better themselves in just one skill. Each character has a different purpose and objective which the children pick up easily without any inhibitions. This helps children to think and explore their imagination, adding their own elements to the roles,” he informs.
Ultimately, this leads to confident stage presence and also in increasing concentration amongst them. Echoes Rajul Pingle, whose 10-year-old granddaughter, Simran has been attending the workshop for a few years now. Says she, “This is Simran’s sixth year and we have literally seen her grow out of her shell and develop confidence and interest in the art form.”