Shadows enact a story

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Last Updated 04 April 2014, 14:28 IST

In today’s times, it is as important for children to grow up exposed to theatre as it is for adults. Every now and then, theatre goes beyond the usual approach of using dialogues and costumes, creating scope for experimental elements like shadows and movements.

This was seen with the recently performed production of ‘The Nuisance of Hamlet’ by Yours Truly Theatre, which was held at Ranga Shankara.

“We’ve converted Shakespeare’s play into a movement-based shadow play and interspersed that with stories of everyday problems that children face. We did a survey of over 70 children, listed all their problems and narrowed it down to three common ones that came up. But we didn’t offer any solutions in these stories, which is called ‘meta mode’ in theatre. Using ‘simultaneous dramaturgy’, we ask the audience to come up with solutions through interactions,” explained Ranji David, the play’s director.

Rather than presenting the Shakespearean play with dialogues and actors, lighting and shadows aided the performance, which depicted important scenes from the play like ‘Hamlet’ meeting his father’s ghost, his love affair with Orphelia and his decision to avenge his father’s death. 

Between each of these were three scenes from a child’s perspective – being bullied by peers, having their dreams crushed and forging parents’ signatures to avoid punishments. 

After each of these depictions, the lights would come on and Ranji, the cloaked conductor, would interact with the children, urging them to share they would have reacted in the same situation. 

   Mixed reactions were seen from the children, some of whom understood the concept and opened up while others were too shy or nervous to speak up.

Among the adults in the audience, some felt that the play was too abstract for young children though everybody appreciated the message it conveyed. 

   “It’s insightful and conveyed a strong social message to the children. But the children need to be slightly older to grasp it. Also, I feel that the effect would definitely be better in schools where parents weren’t around,” said Anita, an audience member. 

Her son Nihaar added, “I like the play and have seen it twice. What I’ve learnt from it is to stand up for myself, no matter what.”

The children had a gala time screaming out answers and responding to Ranji, who amused them thoroughly with his stage antics. Anant, an eight-year-old in the audience, said, “I felt open to talk about the issues. What I enjoyed most were the shadow movements.”

(Published 04 April 2014, 14:28 IST)

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