Celebrating childhood

Celebrating childhood

Who says one has to wait for 14 November to devote an entire day to children? The National School of Drama (NSD) is celebrating the joy of being a child in its 10-day biannual festival Jashne Bachpan, starting from 10 October in the Capital. And this year, there’s a double dose of fun as alongside this, NSD will also be organizing its folk art festival, Bal Sangam. Think two plays a day just for children, and then step outdoors for the colourful festivities on the lawns of Bahawalpur House. Craftsmen, folk musicians and dancers have been invited to perform.

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The imaginative artwork—green TV cabinets stacked to form a 15ft sculpture, helmets hanging from a bamboo structure, among others—on display in the lawns will “hopefully inspire kids", says Bansi Kaul, the creative designer of the festival. Kaul hopes that next year the artwork will be created by the children themselves.

Organized by the Theatre in Education, or Sanskar Rang Toli, a division of NSD, the two festivals were held alternately since 2004, but to commemorate NSD’s golden jubilee celebrations this year, the two festivals are being held together. “Both Jashne Bachpan and Bal Sangam are being held together to encourage a dialogue between urban and rural children," says NSD director Anuradha Kapoor.

This year, Jashne Bachpan will have 22 plays—a huge jump from its usual 12 plays—and also has a presentation from Theatre Seoul, South Korea, which will present a 1 hour play called Choon-Hyang (meaning true love), on 18 October, and a 30-minute play by differently-abled children called Caucasian Chalk Circle on 15 October. The festival will kick off on 10 October with a performance of Panchtantra by Bhopal-based theatre group, the Ranga Sri Little Ballet Troupe.

In Bal Sangam, “there will be more participation by children than ever before", says Kaul. Recounting selection process anecdotes, Kaul says that “the festival really inspires the kids in villages to stick to their folk art and perform. Earlier they would just accompany their parents who are folk artistes to such programmes, but because of Bal Sangam, they now have a festival of their own to look forward to." This year, the folk festival has dances from Rajasthan (Kalbelia, Bhawai, Chari), Manipur (Maibi, Kabui, Poong Cholom), Karnataka (Gurji gurji, Deep nrutya, Kolata), among others. The artists will also hold special workshops for children where they can learn different folk arts such as Kangra painting, Kawad painting and traditional ironwork.

For the artists, this is a chance to showcase their work. “People see the beauty of traditional folk art, and that’s how we get more work. In today’s modern world, people are forgetting the importance and uniqueness of our tradition, and such festivals are a great way of reminding them of their heritage," says Dwarka Prasad Jahengir, who will hold a workshop on Kawad painting at the Bal Sangam.

Jashne Bachpan will run from 10 -20 October at the LTG Auditorium and Shri Ram Centre, Mandi House, New Delhi. Bal Sangam will be held from 12-18 October , at the National School of Drama, Bahawalpur House, Mandi House, New Delhi.

Tickets for the plays are available at the NSD reception between 11am and 5pm, and an hour before the show time at the auditorium.

Tickets: Children, Rs20 and adults, Rs40. Entry to Bal Sangam is free for all.

For details and the schedule for all the performances, log on to www.nsd.gov.in/nsd_tietours.htm