Curtain raiser

The bustling theatre town in the city will see Shakespeare in action. And the playwright's genius will be recreated not by the connoisseurs in the field but a rather lesser known section of theatre.

Written by Shashi Priya | Published:February 19, 2009 3:33 am

As 20 primary school kids get into the shoes of the characters of The Tempest,the Elizabethan era is resurrected once more

The bustling theatre town in the city will see Shakespeare in action. And the playwright’s genius will be recreated not by the connoisseurs in the field but a rather lesser known section of theatre. Tucked away in some quite corner of the busy theatre for some time now,the children’s theatre toddles towards the public domain. As primary school kids enact The Tempest,the ingenuity of the budding actors will be showcased through one of the masterpieces of the Elizabethan era.

The mother daughter duo,Sandhya and Sonali Jaswa who run The Children’s Theatre of Pune will be staging the play in which the primary school kids get into the shoes of the possessive father,the beautiful daughter,the enchanting lover as Shakespeare describes Caliban– a savage and deformed slave,.

A primary school teacher in the US,Sandhya witnessed the impact of children’s theatre in the country and when she moved back to India all she wanted was to strengthen the roots of children’s theatre in the cultural capital of Maharashtra. ” Pune’s theatre scene is so rich and colourful. It’s sad that children’s theatre still is in the clutches of oblivion. In the US there is a stark contrast. A lot of the cities have their own theatre groups who put up very professional and well-rehearsed plays. They are very well done. Props and costumes are far more easily available there,” says Sandhya.

The large ruffles of the sleeves,the dark colours of the Yoke,the netted rope of the torso – the costumes typical of the Elizabethan era are the valedictory mounting of Shakespeare’s elegiac romance in the play.” As far as the costumes go,it is very fortunate that leggings are in style now,as that is what the men wore in the Elizabethan era. So we have had everybody wear leggings with doublets. I bought fabric and had the costumes designed based on typical of the Elizabethan era,” says Sonali.

The duo had been toying with the idea of doing a children’s Shakespeare play for a while. ” I wanted to do a comedy for obvious reasons. The Tempest was our choice because the plot is simple enough for the children to understand. Besides,there are more male characters than female and so it makes casting easier. Girls are more amenable to acting as male characters than boys ,” says Sandhya

The duo however is using a modified script ,added with a lot of narration at the beginning of each scene to make it more comprehensible.

The actors who have been taking classes at Sandhya’s institute since last two years are thrilled about their first performance. The kids who belong to the age group of 10 to 14 had over 50 rehearsals to get it all right. “The most difficult scene was a storm scene that we had to create where the characters are on a ship that is being tossed around in the storm with thunder and lightning,” says Nikhil Jigjinni who plays Ferdinand.

(The play will be staged on February 21 at Nehru Memorial Hall,6 pm onwards)

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