The old toyshop has been closed for 10 years and, behind the locked doors, a Barbie doll, a train, a parrot and a dog are getting bored. Where is their loving shopkeeper? Where have all the children gone? As the four toys step out and investigate, they take the play Khel-Na off on a rollicking ride full of fun and adventure. The hour-long production is a part of “Jashnebachpan”, a theatre festival for children, organised by the National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi, from November 2 to 14.
The 30 plays have come from 14 states and reflect a range of children’s concerns, from child labour (Ji Aaya Sahab) to fantasy (James Aur Ek Giant Peach) to friendship (Mahabhoj) to adult-child relationships (Rekke Kathuvira) to education (Bharari),” says Waman Kendre, Director of NSD.
William Shakespeare, too, features in the line-up — the Kannada play Obbanobba Rajanidda is a retelling of King Lear, about an ageing monarch who decides to distribute his kingdom among his three daughters based on who loves him the most. The two elder girls express their affections in honeyed voices and sugary phrases while the youngest says simply that she loves him as much as any daughter would love her father. Lear, enraged by the plain words, casts her out, setting in motion a chain of dark and tragic events that includes every nightmare of a child’s horror story — from madness and destitution to deaths.
This is the 25th anniversary of Theater in Education, the children’s drama wing of NSD that organises the festival, and a new event has been added to the calendar. “The last three days of the festival will also feature a seminar, titled “Theatre for Children: Whose need is it”, with well-known theatre personalities such as Rudraprasad Sengupta, Bansi Kaul and Kanchan Sontakke on the dais,” says Kendre.
“Jashnebachpan” will be held from November 2 to 14 at the National School of Drama. Passes are free and available at the venue.