Butterflies in the Belly

A play without any words from Israel hopes to give two-year-olds their first theatrical experience

Written by Pallavi Chattopadhyay | Updated: July 8, 2014 12:26 am
A scene from the play A scene from the play

When Israel-based director Elinor Agam Ben-David started out scripting a play for infants without dialogues, she turned to butterflies for inspiration. Not only do they fly — a dream that many children secretly nurture — but they also have beautiful and almost magical traits. It’s this association that Ben-David hopes to project in the play Butterfly Kiss.

The non-verbal piece follows the tale of a young girl who catches butterflies in a jar and finally decides to set them free, but only after getting the last butterfly’s kiss. On stage will be lone actor Hagar Tishman, along with hand puppets, digital artwork and toys. “The ways to communicate are those that can be understood by young children, such as music and dance, visuals such as shadows, video, animation and puppetry. Emotion is our language and it is a universal one,” says the Tel Aviv-based director in an email interview.

A mother of two sons, the lack of theatre productions for this age group led Ben-David to conceive of this play. “Most children’s shows are from age three or four upwards. There are very few theatre shows in Israel that talk to smaller kids. I felt that babies, even from age one, deserved to have their first theatrical experience,” says the director who has previously worked on plays such as Samira that toured New York and Edinburgh, and The Jungle Book.

Working with the belief that real magic does not happen on stage but in children’s eyes, Ben-David also works on making audience interaction an integral part of the show. So children in the audience are participants and the actor has a direct connection with them, where she dances with them and lets them touch her butterfly props. “There is no illusion.Children are part of the show. They sit on the floor very close to the stage, upon small clouds-carpets that hide a surprise beneath them and some of them even go on stage with the actor in her quest,” says Ben-David, who is a part of the Mediatheque Theatre in Holon, Israel.

After having toured several cities in Japan last year, the show will premiere in Chennai and Bangalore, before travelling to the Capital.
However, the director believes that the experience is different every time. “In Japan, we even saw adults walking in the streets with the ‘Butterfly Kiss’ on their cheeks,” she says. She also clarifies that there is no hidden message for children in the play. “The only message we want to convey is an emotional and artistic one,” says Ben-David.

The play will be staged at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, on July 13 at 7 pm. Seating on first come, first served basis. Contact: 24682222

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