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Not a Drop To Drink: A play for young audiences wades into the issue

Director V Balakrishnan’s Theatre Nisha, a Chennai group, is presenting The Water Princess as part of Bonjour India. It will be staged in Delhi during the International Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences (TIFLI) on December 5, 7 pm.

Written by Dipanita Nath |
Updated: December 4, 2017 9:46:22 am
The Water Princess play, V Balakrishnan’s Theatre Nisha, International Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences (TIFLI) , Royal Court Theatre, London, National School of Drama, indian express news A scene from the play The Water Princess

The Water Princess is angry. People of earth treat water with such disdain, you’d think it were free and would last forever. The princess has decided to leave the earth. Three clowns spring to the defence because, what would Earth do without water? Director V Balakrishnan’s Theatre Nisha, a Chennai group, is presenting The Water Princess as part of Bonjour India. It will be staged in Delhi during the International Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences (TIFLI) on December 5, 7 pm.

Balakrishnan, who has trained at the National School of Drama and been awarded the Charles Wallace Scholarship to attend the International Residency for young directors, hosted by the Royal Court Theatre, London, talks about The Water Princess.

Excerpts from an interview:

What was the process of creating the mythology of this story?

The idea of the story originated from the myth of Ganga, who is brought to earth to redeem lost souls. A question arose in my mind — what if Ganga decides to return to the heavens seeing the complete apathy humans have for nature conservation? That was the seed of the origin of the play.

Children are said to be strict audiences. What is your stagecraft to keep them interested to the story?

The best craft is to be honest about what one is rendering and avoid manipulating the audience with presupposed emotive states. That is the base of my design and direction. The performance style is eclectic, borrowing from genres of puppetry, circus, clown and immersive theatre.

The Water Princess play, V Balakrishnan’s Theatre Nisha, International Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences (TIFLI) , Royal Court Theatre, London, National School of Drama, indian express news V Balakrishnan

As an actor, you are a veteran of 150 productions. Why didn’t you perform in The Water Princess?

I am away in the US on a Fulbright Fellowship. I was not able to act in this play, but I have a wonderful cast and crew keeping the mantle up. There is Taruna J as lighting designer and operator, actors Meer Sitaraman, Shakti Ramani, Aparna Kumar and Roshini Sridhar, while Srivaralakshmi Iyer has composed the music. They have worked with me for some time and are trained to analyse and render a script.

As TIFLI gets underway, what is your opinion of theatre for children in India?

There seems to be more plays and workshops happening for the younger minds in India now than 10 years ago. It is wonderful to see the injection of this craft so early in their life and I am sure that it leads to critical thinking. There are a lot of children’s theatre festivals also being organised in the country, and we can see its benefits in terms of understanding social equity.

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