Prithvi Theatre’s annual season of workshops and plays for kids returns this year in a new avatar. There are two most obvious changes: firstly, the wildly popular event is no longer called Summertime, but Arts at Play. Second, it is now being run by Junoon,the new theatre company co-founded by Sanjna Kapoor and Sameera Iyengar, with a view to building the events over time, across Mumbai and other parts of the country. Conceptualised by Sanjna Kapoor and introduced at Prithvi in 1991, Summertime has been one of the most successful activities in the field of kids’ theatre in the city. Under Junoon, Arts at Play will have an expanded programme that runs over two months and over several neighbourhoods. Registration is open across all five workshop centres.
The essence of the event remains largely unchanged, said Kapoor, who stepped down as Prithvi’s director in November last year to start Junoon. The idea is still to give children complete freedom to experiment within a disciplined environment, she said. “It’s still about creating free spaces for kids to run with their ideas and expression,” added Sameera Iyengar.
This philosophy was what helped Summertime grow from a handful of workshops into a two-month-long celebration of theatre for children. The roster was crammed with activities that fused theatre, music, writing, dance and even a bit of juggling. Productions such as IPTA’s Barsoraam Dadhaake Se and Akvarious Production’s The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat premiered at the season. The line-up at Arts at Play this year includes Neeraj Kabi’s theatre workshop using classical dance, music and martial arts, puppet-making by Anurupa Roy and Anita Salim’s Arabian Nights workshop. Kids can try their hand at juggling with Timira Gupta or discover the joys of Hindi with theatre director Shaili Sathyu. “The idea is to explore poetry in Hindi that is different from the poems children are used to in textbooks – basically, to have fun with the language,” Sathyu said.
Kathak dancer Purva Naresh will make her debut at Arts at Play with a workshop on story-telling, movement and rhythm. “I hope I’ll get an insight into the way children respond to and understand rhythm because they have a unique way of responding to everything,” said Naresh. A total of 45 workshops will be held at four venues other than Prithvi Theatre, including Akshara High School in Kandivali, Kids Club at Khar, Shishuvan School in Matunga (E) and Bhavans, Chowpatty. “I think there’s a tremendous amount of contemplation and work done in the designing of each workshop, which is what makes it really special,” Kapoor said. “The fantastic group of [workshop] conductors we have, that’s our USP.” Apart from the workshops, there will also be theatre productions hosted at Prithvi Theatre.
But Arts at Play is only one part of Junoon’s larger endeavour to circulate productions from India and abroad among various parts of the country. The team also plans to invite students to watch plays in theatres near their schools, later in the year. The pick of the productions at Arts at Play will be staged there. “It can then become a hook with which children can engage with other areas of theatre,” Iyengar said. “The plays can then become windows into little worlds.”
See www.junoontheatre.org for registration details, or call on +91 98333 44173.
This is a corrected version of the article that appeared in the issue dated Mar 30-Apr 12.
By Mithila Phadke on March 30 2012 11.35am