“Tam ta ram ta," the actor on stage enunciates, from inside a cardboard carton. Some in the audience burst into a collective giggle. Some of them watch transfixed, one clasps his mother’s hands, and another confidently sings, “tam ta ra ra".

The two plays, Tam Ta Ram Ta (on 25 July) and Bends And Flows (26 July), have been in the making for three months.

Rao uses sound similarly in her play Tam Ta Ram Ta, and Shikhar, in her play Bends And Flows, creates an audio-visual experience for toddlers by using everyday objects. “There is a temptation to use words and say it. But we have to find the worth of a word in a sound and an expression," says Rao. She says adults are often tempted to look at the world from their own perspective, with pre-conceived notions. “Toddlers rely on their five senses greatly," she says. So narratives hidden in images and rhythms emerge, which will appeal to the adult accompanying the child. Shikhar’s rehearsals have been assessed by parents and a psychologist. “We were concerned that the toddlers might hurt themselves with the black chana, the material I am using in the play," says Shikhar, who is used to working with children above the age of 8 as a theatre facilitator at Head Start Montessori House of Children.

“One must not leave the parent out of the performance. They are also at the venue for the full 30 minutes," says Shikhar.

The week-long festival opens with Anecdotes And Allegories by Gulbadan Begum from Delhi’s Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust (21 July). There will be storytelling sessions for children of four years and above by Arundhati Nag and Aarti Aaney.

The AHA! International Theatre for Children Festival is on at Ranga Shankara, 36/2, 8th Cross, IInd Phase, JP Nagar, Bangalore, from 21-28 July. For details, visitwww.rangashankara.org. Tickets (discounted rates for children), available online atwww.indianstage.in, www.bookmyshow.com, and at the Ranga Shankara box office.