Total paucity of plays for kids, say theatre veterans

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Bubbles Sabharwal and Lushin Dubey, who have been pushing a culture of youth theatre for years through their Kids World initiative, rue the “paucity of plays” for children across India.

In the past, through their children’s theatre company Kids World, Dubey and Sabharwal have adapted many stories into plays — brought alive by children from the age of 5 to 25.

Their latest is “Oye Matilda! Tu Hai Ustaad”, a ‘Hinglish’ play adapted from Roald Dahl’s famous “Matilda”, and staged at the DLF Promenade in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj from December 14-17.

“There’s a total paucity of plays, maybe some (are staged) in the cities… But alas, that’s all! In the rest of India, children’s plays only exist in schools as annual day productions,” Sabharwal told IANS.

Their effort is to keep spreading the magic of theatre.

“Next in the pipeline is a musical in Mumbai, two workshops in schools… And lots of downtime to ‘create’ more! It is kids that keep the energy pumping,” Dubey said.

Earlier, they adapted Dahl’s “Witches”, which they made into a play titled “Wizwit”, and also “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with their own spin.

On adapting “Matilda”, Sabharwal said: “Theatre is a mirror of life! This play was chosen because of the upside down fun element of the story ‘Matilda’. Our version contemporarised it, and made it Delhi-centric. We picked this story as it a fun one and shows how the child can be the father of man.”

Having enjoyed the process of casting for the production, Dubey said the art of integrating it all requires “much patience and foresight” from the directors’ end.

“Challenges always are to encourage kids to not stop class work and yet juggle theatre rehearsals. To help them multitask… At seven years of age, it is tough to have a running two hour rehearsal, but that discipline is soon learnt.

“Finding sponsors who believe in children, in their talent, in their potential, is another challenge,” she added.

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