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IGNCA Holds Workshop for Children


The children chasing Ummakki (the evil character)

Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has endeavoured over the years to acquaint children with the rich heritage of India through diverse media like puppetry, dramatics, paintings and photographs. Children have both seen and participated in all such activities which have been held periodically in New Delhi and other parts of India, under IGNCA's Children's World Programme.

A festival of Children's plays and workshop on Creative Dramatics was held in collaboration with the Rangaprabhath Children's Theatre of Kerala and Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti in New Delhi during December - January 1995-96.

Rangaprabhath Children's Theatre was founded by the doyen of Malayalam Theatre, the late Prof. G. Sankara Pillai about 25 years ago to give shape to his fascinating experiment in providing a composite pattern of education through arts to select children. It has now become an authentic centre of education through arts. This Theatre has been concentrating on children and youth by offering them a composite and total training programme based on the awareness that the inherent interest in children for listening to stories, story telling, story enacting, improvisation through games they play, could be put to better use as a means of education and for value creation, habit formation and awareness creation.

IGNCA started collaborating with the Rangaprabhath Children's Theatre in 1994 by documenting eleven children's plays written by Prof. G. Sankara Pillai. Each story had a message for children and the archetypel grandmother who was the narrator of these moral messages along with a message for personal and societal change. A Gandhian that he was, Prof. G. Sankara Pillai bestowed great attention on various aspects of value creation among the youths.

The Festival of Children's Plays and Workshop on creative dramatics, held from 26th December 1995 to 10th January 1996 at New Delhi, was a continuation of the relationship between IGNCA and Rangaprabhath.

The workshop was organised at Gandhi Darshan, Rajghat in which children from Rangaprabhath expressed their feelings and shared their training with local children from the bastis. Prof. Sankara Pillai always believed that social change can be made possible only through education for which learning should be made an enjoyable process. His theatre movement is being carried forward by the ever smiling and unassuming Shri Kochunarayana Pillai who carries within himself the essence of the deep creativity of Prof. Sankara Pillai. The workshop provided an opportunity for blossoming of the creative talents of children.

Four major plays was performed in Delhi : Gurudakshina, Ummaki, Ponnumkudam and Orukootan Urunbukal. Of these, the play Ummaki, directed by Dr. N. Radhakrishnan, Director, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti and Consultant for the Rangaprabhath Children's Theatre, was held at IGNCA and was documented on VHS and U-matic formats.


Ummakki narrating his pathetic story

This event organised at New Delhi gave the children from the rural areas of Kerala an opportunity for an emotional integration with the children living in the capital city of Delhi. The children from the slum bastis who participated in the workshop and plays were thrilled to be an active part of the festival.

Shobhana Radhakrishnan


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