With the launch of 14th edition of Jashn-e-bachpan: International Children’s Theatre Festival by NSD, chief Abdul Latif Khatana and director Suresh Sharma talk about inclusivity.
Learning isn’t just confined to schools and classrooms anymore. And at a time of digital detoxification, engagement with culture and arts is a sureshot way of nurturing the creative potential of the next generation. Jashn-e-Bachpan, a nine-day theatre festival for children, brings in plays from various regions and languages under one roof, featuring some of the most eminent and emerging theatre directors and groups working with and for the children.
As the festival features more than 500 participants this time, director of National School of Drama, Suresh Sharma, felt, “It is one of the greatest achievements and accomplishments this year as the entries escalated to more than 200 groups. With a total of 221 entries, 24 groups have been selected.”
The entries have come from various states like Maharashtra, Assam, Rajasthan, Gujarat, New Delhi, West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura. The plays will be performed in a range of languages like Assamese, Marathi, Bengali, and Malayalam besides English and Hindi. Sharma lauded Ram Gopal Bajaj, who is responsible for all such festivals including this one, Bal Sangam and Bharat Rang Mahotsav.
As the festival is a part of Rang Sanskar Toli, an initiative by the Theatre-In-Education (TIE) Company, its chief Abdul Latif Khatana said that initially, it only aimed to attract more and more children to theatre. But “it has become an institution” that aims to teach children outside the conventional school classrooms. The toli, through theatre, highlights various social issues that are crucial for children to know at a tender age, believes Khatana. He added, “Theatre is an exercise — physical, mental , emotional and social — that makes people capable of handling emotions as well as look at the world through a completely different perspective as it exposes them to a society that teaches through experiences.”
He reveals that many children from NGOs from around the country have also been considered to participate as they are “the unrecognised sections of the society who aren’t much privileged of many such opportunities.”
However, the question arises, what kind of an audience does it cater to? “It is a festival that not only acts or shows but also educates both the viewer and the actor. It is a dramatic representation of childhood, which if talking about a certain issue in the society or a background, addresses all kinds of families and their backgrounds — upper, middle and backward class. Because that is how they will relate to and understand whatever they are displaying.”
The plays, hence, are divided into four categories — performance by children, by adults and children, by adults for children, and puppet performances.
While various Indian states will be a part of the festival, participants from three countries — Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Switzerland — will also be performing.
Sharma shared his vision, “The idea behind the initiative is to celebrate childhood and hence children from even the underprivileged section of the society from Delhi-NCR have been invited to attend. It also aims to bring theatre into prominence as it has lost its sheen in the modern era due to technology and digital media. None of the schools has theatre as a mandatory subject, hence they are not much aware of theatre these days. They watch films on cinema and mobile phones, but hardly take interest in drama.”
(The festival begins from November 17 to 25 at the Sammukh, Abhimanch, Abhikalp, and the Little Theatre Group (LTG) Auditoria at National School of Drama.)
Writer: Team Viva
Courtesy: The Pioneer