As a part of the ‘Oz Fest’, ‘Saltbush - Children’s Cheering Carpet’ was staged at the Ranga Shankara recently. The play included the recreation of landscapes, the sky and the sea on a touch-sensitive floor as well as infrared imaging technology, which enthralled the audience.
The play narrated the story of two friends, from different aboriginal backgrounds, who journeyed across Australia’s diverse landscapes.
The entire play was filled with dance, music and song. The touch-sensitive floor truly enhanced the quality of the play by giving every season — whether winter or summer — a truly real feel. The audience was amazed to see the special effects around them.
The play beautifully portrayed rural Australia. The aboriginals’ reverence for nature, in particular, was admirably depicted. Scenes such as bathing and playing in the river seemed exceptionally natural. The background music and the timing of the dialogues complemented the play.
The section of the audience that had the maximum fun was the children. It was evident that the play was specially meant for them.
Throughout the play, the children were invited to come on the floor. There was one particular scene that really scared them — on the touch-sensitive floor, the set up was that of a city filled with traffic. Children had to cross the busy road to reach the other end.
An appearance of a car in the middle of the road — while they were still crossing — terrified them and they screamed at the top of their voices. At a later stage, an illusion of crabs was created on the floor. The children instantly ran away. Overall, it was a thrilling experience for them.
Anusha, a seven-year-old who came for the play, says, “I loved the play. It was amazing. I could dance, I could run and do so many things. Everything seemed so real. I wish more such plays happen in the City.”
Through such interactive tales, the history of Australia was narrated to the children.
Rohini, a parent and a member of the audience, says, “What I really liked about the play is the ample importance given to interaction with the children.”
She adds, “The kids had so much fun — and apart from that, it is an interesting way to tell the history of a nation. After watching this play, we have learnt about the rich culture and green forests that were prevalent in Australia a long ago. The entire transformation of a forest to a city, its traffic and the change in lifestyles — everything was shown in the play. I think such interactive sessions should also become a part of storytelling techniques in schools.”