As the sun sets in the countryside of Harady in Puttur, the children’s theatre bustles with activity. Children get busy preparing for their performances. The kids enact their roles confidently and deliver the dialogues eloquently.
From building self-confidence to developing vocabulary, theatre activities has gone a long way in nurturing the personality of these children, say teachers who are associated with the theatre activities in Puttur. It’s no surprise that such activities have kindled the creativity in kids. “Children have the ability to surprise through performances and theatre activities change their attitude and approach towards academics as well,” say the teachers.
Prathiksha, a Class 8 student, says, “Theatre has changed the way we see life. It has also brought in a sea change in our lives. It has helped me overcome stage fear and I’ve learnt how to communicate effectively with the audience. It helped me develop an interest in art, dance and music and learn voice modulation technique.”
Abhishek of Class 7 says, “It opened my imagination and creativity and made me energetic. Further, theatre activities have helped me read books, which in turn has improved my vocabulary.” For his friend Prajwal, participation in a drama meant a shift from playing video games and watching TV to reading books.
Contrary to the allegations that theatre activities have shrunken over the years, schools in Puttur and the surrounding areas witness regular workshops on drama, culminating in the annual theatre festival called the Atta Mutta Makkala Natakotsava.
In fact, Puttur is the land where Jnanpith awardee K Shivaram Karanth carried out experiments in theatre decades ago. Theatre veteran B V Karanth also contributed to the theatre scene of the region. The momentum initiated by them has continued even to this day with the efforts of Niratha Nirantha Makkala Nataka Shale, which organises the annual theatre festival.
This is the brainchild of like-minded theatre enthusiasts like I K Boluvaru, Dr Sreesha Kumar, Manjula Subrahmanya, Maunesh Vishwakarma and others. “Theatre enriches a child’s emotional world and enhances his or her aesthetic sensibilities. The workshops we organise engage students in the various aspects of theatre,” says I K Boluvaru. For the past 16 years, hundreds of children take part in the annual Atta Mutta Makkala Natakotsava and understand the nuances of theatre in the process. Many of the plays thus produced have been staged in state and national level theatre festivals. Apart from these plays, productions of Kinnara Mela, which is working in the children’s theatre arena, are also staged at Atta Mutta.
Makkala Nataka Prayoga, Sonangeri Bayalu Chitralaya and the theatre march are some other activities that these theatre enthusiasts have organised to sustain the theatre momentum in the region. Recently, Niratha Nirantha had presented Sayo aata—Mathe helida kathe directed by Manjula Subrahmanya. Students of Government Model Higher Primary School Harady enacted the drama that highlighted the contemporary problems faced by the children.
Stressing the importance of theatre activities for students, Prashanth Ananthadi, a teacher, says, such workshops help students build confidence in them and encourage team spirit. It also helps them hone their performance skills.
“Here, the children not only learn to act but also pick up the nuances of theatre as learning happens through various activities and games. Apart from grooming the children’s innate talent, we also teach them to prepare make-up materials, props, write songs and weave a story for the play,” he says.
Further, the team also engages children in reading sessions wherein the works on great writers are read before kids, thus creating interest among them in literature. “When our students showed a keen interest in puppetry, I K Boluvaru helped us with the basics. Accordingly, the children successfully performed a puppetry show on the theme of Punyakoti. The puppets were also designed by them for the show,” he adds.
The theatre workshops in schools and colleges have received an overwhelming response from the students as well as the teachers. Interested teachers come and watch the plays that are staged as a part of Makkala Natakotsava and initiate similar activities in their schools, thus expanding the horizons of theatre.