Catch them young!

When you spot a couple of children rambling onstage, without uttering a single syllable, with a professor enthusing over their performance, asking them to be prompt in delivery. You end up wondering if there’s any method to this madness.

And voila! The eminent pantomime practitioner from Indian Mime Theatre, Niranjan Goswami explains, “This is to develop their physical awareness, their sense of imagination and observation. Alongside, their postural defects also get corrected,” while undertaking a Mime session with children.

Exploring the acting abilities of children, some only five-years-old, the first International Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences –TIFLI organised a series of theatre workshops at National Bal Bhavan recently.

It was over a game of ‘Wink murder’ aka ‘Killer’, that children learnt the art of performing onstage while their mentor gushed over, urging them to act wisely, more mysteriously and, not be caught as ‘the killer’ while they wink at a fellow participant to ‘kill’ them during the game.

And the kids lapped up the opportunity well!

Who doesn’t mind a game or two in a class, especially at a class that is starkly different from the  one at their school? When asked, if there is any pattern to the class, Niranjan says, “Though these appear impromptu sessions, all these games and acting lessons have been planned to widen their understanding of the five senses. If they learn and enjoy acting at this nascent stage, they would want to continue doing it as adults.”

These free-of-cost sessions are aimed at imparting practical lessons on storytelling, body movements, mask making, modulation, object theatre and improvisation. Attending the session as a spectator, a doting mother, Namita Gupta, sat clicking pictures of her son, exclaiming, “My son Avyam is in Class II and I think after a week of attending classes at school, he is getting to relax here. It is a good exposure for him as he is learning so many different things at a time,” while adding that her first performance on stage happened in her son’s school only. As it was exhilarating for her, she wants her son to experience it way earlier in his life.

Their enthusiasm and alacrity seemed to be building over time, as children
engaged in spontaneous performances and post-performance analysis. At one point, painting an imaginary canvas with flair and at another mirroring each other’s movements and expressions, the children had thoroughly enjoyable time as they picked
up the nuances of theatre in this workshop.

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