From page to stage

Thus speaks eight-year-old Apu in the play ‘The Monster Night’, one of the seven short plays in the collection ‘Good Heavens!’ by Poile Sengupta. As Apu’s sister finds out in the play, Apu’s teacher has said everyone must live in a ‘well-ventilated house’ – and Apu can’t pronounce the word ‘ventilated’!

What makes this collection of plays interesting is the scope it gives young actors, directors and crew members to explore the world of drama. Some of the plays are serious and thoughtful, while others are comical. Technically, too, they differ. While some depend on creative lighting or choreography to work, others need inventive use of movement or props, and others allow costume designers to really exercise their imagination! In some, dialogues are short and crisp, with split-second rapport between actors, while some require a sing-song delivery or the rendition of long, thought-provoking monologues. Some involve many actors, while in some, just two actors are needed.

The play ‘The White Elephant’ requires the audience to use their imagination, as the main character is never seen! The white elephant is referred to all the time, but he never appears on stage – those playing the human characters need to act really well to make him come alive for the spectators.

The book is divided into two parts. The 24-page introduction gives an overview of the world of theatre, peppered with the author’s insights into writing, producing and directing a play. From an overall commentary about the process of going from page to stage, the author comes to the nitty-gritties of rehearsal schedules, divided week-wise from ‘Week #1” to “Week #6”. The second part of the book contains the actual plays.

These thoroughly enjoyable, original plays can be performed at school or at home, and will delight those who perform or work behind the scenes, and those who watch them.

Book: Good Heavens: One Act-Plays for Children
Author: Poile Sengupta
Publisher: Puffin Books
Price: Rs.199

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