Life throws pleasant surprises along the way when you least expect it. Until Friday afternoon I hadn’t really planned on attending the launch of Yt’angle (Yours Truly angle for children by the theatre group Yours Truly). But one thing led to another and me, a reluctant theatre enthusiast jumped at the chance of introducing my children to theatre. They were not entirely enthusiastic about this last minute Saturday program to go watch a play when they could be home with video games and television. The chock-a-bloc traffic and losing our way to JC Road didn’t help either.
But we reached ADA Rangamandira on time and it was heartening to see that schools in Bangalore made good use of the chance to be a part of this interactive experience. By 11 AM, when the play started, the Rangamandira was filled with 500 enthusiastic children from Jyoti Navodaya, Goodyear Public school, Indian Public School, St Mary’s, Navodaya Vidyala, Freedom school, Advaith, Carmel and Sneha Sadan schools.
What we experienced next were two of the most engrossing hours, even by the standard of kids! The show started off with whistles and screams – the children had to ensure they were heard. But what followed was attentive silence as the plays unfolded with simple, engaging child-friendly plots. “Yomo” was a fantasy story; “Lost” was a story of a child who is lost and trying to find home; “Story of Spices” was a delightful story of a boy having to decide if he should stick to his mother’s advice; “Thief” explored life of a child on the streets; “The Scar” which ended up being the most popular play among the children had a message that friendship is beyond superficial factors.
The organizers rightfully kept Yomo as a regular play giving chance for the young audience to understand theatre and especially their style in which the actors sang, danced, spoke their dialogues without microphones and organized themselves as props when required.
The real fun started from the next play ,“Lost”, about a boy who is mislead by kidnappers and left alone on an unfamiliar road to find his way back home by himself. The organizers opened up the play to the audience, “What should happen next? What would you do if you are lost?”. The children started off with practical responses like find a phone and call home, or a chance meeting with someone he knows. But they soon entered the world of imagination and suggested mysterious maps and mystic animals leading the boy home. Yours Truly team weaved the responses into a story and the team put up a commendable performance complete with lights and music to enact this scenario impromptu.
The favourite of my 9 year old son was the next play “Story of spices” about the temptation of a boy who has been forbidden by his mother to open up a spice box, not the least so because his suggestion of a genie appearing when the boy does open the box was picked up by the team. The colourful, Kannada mixed play influenced the children to come up with whimsical suggestions on how this should end. The atmosphere was so charged that even my usual taciturn 6 year old daughter was putting her hand up to offer suggestions.
By the time “The Scar”, the fifth and final play was enacted, the children had grown familiar and comfortable with the format. The number of hands that went up increased as the kids offered solutions ranging from the realms of fantasy to reality. Finally the play adopted the theme of learning to look beyond physical appearances. The Yours Truly volunteers ensured that every single kid who put up his or her hand was addressed and the response heard. For me, the crowning moment of that afternoon came when my son wished the plays would go on and on and not end with the fifth one.
Professor T K Ramachandra, a children’s playwright and chief guest for this event, rounded off by sharing a beautiful Kannada story. The event proved a welcome break from an otherwise routine video game/television filled weekend. ⊕