How do you get the attention of a group of children in a room full of molten chocolate, chocolate buttons, chocolate drops, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins and more? Ask theatre artist Shivani Tibrewala. Tibrewala, who has just completed a series of performing-arts-based workshops in collaboration with the National Centre for the Performing Arts, will be beginning her new craft-based creative-writing modules in July—storytelling through chocolate making—in Mumbai. The modules will be for children in the 6-10 age group.
“The reason children listen is because there is an inherent metaphor woven through the modules. I don’t believe kids learn very well through a lecture or by simply making them sit and listen to what you have to say,” she says of her methodology of teaching. The module, which extends over four sessions, with the option of either a Saturday or a Wednesday session of an hour and a half, is tailored to make storytelling enticing and bring out reading, writing and comprehension skills in children. Thus, you have segments such as ”Ingredients of storytelling” and “What makes a story tasty?” Think about it—what really are the ingredients of a story? Watching children make a joyful mess with plot and characterization, be introduced to concepts such as conflict and tie-up all the loose ends makes for quite a delicious mix.
“Children can surprise you with what they come up with. Last month, we held a similar workshop on superheroes and we asked children to list what characteristics they would lend their superheroes if they were to make one from scratch. Their inventiveness is very special,” says Tibrewala. The results with chocolate too, she says, are exciting for both adults and children. “For instance, in a segment such as ‘What makes a story tasty’, we’d probably ask them whether they liked scary, funny or superhero stories and to think about what they would do to include elements that create that kind of a story,” says Tibrewala. The approach breaks storytelling down to its basics and works to build it up like a recipe. The deconstruction helps them look at what could otherwise be a mundane understanding of the craft with a different perspective. “It helps them understand how what goes in affects what comes out.” The children also get to take the chocolates home once they are done, if there are any left over by the end of the module. Tibrewala laughs: “There generally are because the children love to take them home and show what they’ve done and distribute them to family and friends. Besides, it is what keeps them coming back for more.”
The modules don’t always stretch the chocolate-making idea. Some sessions are conceptual and abstract. “It may seem very intangible, but there are some very tangible tools and skills in storytelling that the modules tap,” says Tibrewala. The modules change every month. July’s chocolate-making sessions will be followed by puppet-making and mask-making sessions in August and September. Each module can be taken successively or as a stand-alone.
Classes will be held at various locations across Mumbai for two age groups, 6-8 and 9-10. For details on the timing, venues and charges, call 9820127247 or email email@example.com