As a child I recollect attending a play in Delhi with a lot of puppets in it and one in Mumbai's Prithvi theatre. That is it. At school we had monthly skits that we, as students, would stage- you could never have one without a moral. Possibly had something to do with being in a convent school?
- Theatre itself has a limited audience in our country. Accompanying adults (I presume) tend to feel children's plays maybe too simplistic for them to enjoy .
- Assuming children's plays have child actors- road shows may prove difficult since that could interrupt their academic pursuits.
- Language could be a barrier what with the effort involved in putting up a play. English theatre might be the only one with universal appeal or limited dialogues could be a solution.
- At school, theatre is hardly if ever a part of the curriculum- awareness first as they say and instead of the regular fairy fare we could stage more indigenous, thought provoking yet fun and relevant plays at the school fete?
- With every other child aspiring to be a ShahRukh or a Rajini in the making or a Batman or even a Sakthimaan, some cynicism may have crept in about this medium. That would be sad indeed- a loss of a powerful dynamic medium and more importantly the loss of innocence.
- How many of us would think of staging a play at the apartment's new year festival or at our child's birthday party? How many of the kids would appreciate it? I did think of a shadow play for Anush's birthday but could not find anyone to help do it!!
With nautankis and folk theatre ranging from shadow play to puppetry, hari kathas to dance dramas, I am sure we are a nation steeped in children's theatre.
This note by Anant, a visionary theatre group founded by Ashish Gosh, captures it really well-
" We have found that real children's theatre is universal in appeal, reaching out to 'the child' in all of us, and not only to the biological child. We have known that this 'child' in us seeks a secure space to come out in the open, transcending the barriers created by the ‘adult' world. Here there is no sermonizing, no patronizing, no moralizing..............."
Bhawna in Chennai goes a step ahead and special children mingle with " normal" ones to create inclusive theatre.
Blore hosted the Rainbow Children's Theatre Festival which is for older kids and teenagers and began a few years ago. NSD organised it. Not sure if it is still on.