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The cap seller in The Monkeys And The Capseller has always been bald—he was born bald. At least that’s how he is in Anushka Ravishankar’s quirky retelling of the folk tale in a 2008 Karadi Tales audiobook. Stray Factory has adapted the story for stage, and will open the show in Chennai for children this weekend.

This time, the idea of taking children’s books to the stage will also be tried out at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai starting 7 February.

Shobha Viswanath, Karadi Tales’ publishing director, says: “We looked at all our stories and felt that this (The Monkeys And The Capseller) has a good visual and theatrical presence. It has some lovely songs as well that Anushka herself has written. Also, monkeys are an amusing matter for any age group."

“We’re doing a smaller production compared to Once Upon A Bak-Bak Tree, with just two shows at the Alliance Française this time," says Viswanath. The Evam theatre group collaborated with Karadi Tales to present Once Upon A Bak-Bak Tree in 2013 and 2014. A collection of stories, it was staged in Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai last year, and in Coimbatore, Kochi and Bengaluru in 2013.

“We’ve had several learnings from the show last year and decided that we would do something minimalistic before launching into something bigger. We want to see how the audience responds to it," she adds.

In Mumbai, says Lubaina Bandukwala, curator, children’s literature, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, “The children’s lit section has always encouraged storytelling in different ways—the highlight of the section has been for the past two years an interactive theatrical adaptation of a book with the Gillo Theatre Group, which specializes in children’s theatre.

“In the first year, we adapted Mr Jeejeebhoy And The Birds by Anitha Balachandran; in year 2, we did Tiger On A Tree by Ravishankar. This year, when Payal (Kapadia) came up with the enactment-idea based on her book, I thought it was a great way to do this theatrical adaptation involving the kids themselves."

Dubbed The World’s Most Horrid Show, based on Horrid High by Kapadia, it will be staged on 8 February.

With the help of Sejal Kanani, who teaches theatre to young children, Bandukwala and Kapadia have divided Horrid High into 10 sections. “We gave out eight scenes to top schools in Mumbai who stepped forward to script these sections and audition children for the main roles," says Kapadia. “The remaining two scenes will be read out by me."

“It’s always wonderful to find creative, new, unorthodox ways of getting children to engage with books," says Kapadia.

The Monkeys And The Capseller will be staged on 31 January, 4pm/7pm, at Alliance Française, 24, Nungambakkam, Chennai. Tickets, 100, available on www.eventjini.com. For details, call 9790911711. The World’s Most Horrid Show will be staged on 8 February, 11am-1pm, at David Sassoon Library, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai. To register, email litkidskgaf15@gmail.com.

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