It is the story of a 12-year-old war refugee, Naz, who sets out to London to be with his sister and takes along with him a small suitcase and several stories to tell. While Naz journeys across the world much like his hero Sindbad the sailor, he meets Krysia, a young girl who helps him tackle tough situations on the way.
The story of migration is told through the story of Naz, and the stories he tells explore the troubles and issues of migrant children. Boy with a Suitcase is an English play produced by Ranga Shankara in collaboration with Schnawwl Theater Mannheim, Germany. For three years now Ranga Shankara has been liaising with Schnawwl to bring out several productions for children, including a play for toddlers called The Great Lalula.
The production for the Boy with a Suitcase began early this year when artistes from Schnawwl came down to Bangalore. “At first we thought of doing Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana, but then there would have been no exchange of cultural understandings in the process,” says director Andrea Gronemeyer. Written by Mike Kenny, this play about the issues faced by migrant children inspired Gronemeyer to cast a mixed team of English and non-English actors, who might identify with the character and emotions of the play better. During rehearsals, the cast found themselves throwing in words from Indian languages and German to make the script their own. “A large number of children in Germany are, in fact, not German. They come from different backgrounds and this play will, in fact, resonate well with them,” says Sofia Steph, a dramaturge with Schnawwl. The play premiered in Mannheim in April, where it was well received. “What we are trying to achieve in these collaborations is to understand the language of children across the world,” says Gronemeyer. Arundhati Nag, creative director, Ranga Shankara, adds, “I am impressed by the very structured children’s theatre training that Schnawwl has and wish we could replicate that here in India, where we have been struggling to even ensure that every child watches one play in a year.”
Live music by Coordt Linke, Konarak Reddy and M.D. Pallavi and a mixed cast make the play riveting.