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Bringing theatre to classrooms

K.K. GOPALAKRISHNAN

As part of its year-long Silver Jubilee celebrations, Rangachetana has taken up the task of popularising theatre among school students.



THEATRE FOR KIDS: `Theeram' was staged in connection with the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Rangachetana.

As part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Rangachetana, a Thrissur-based theatre group, a year-long project was begun to popularise theatre among school children.

"Last year we had presented the play `Three scholars and a late lion,' authored by the late theatre thespian G. Sankara Pillai, at 78 select schools in Kerala. Taking inspiration from this successful venture, this year, we have decided to stage Irish playwright, Lady Gregory's well-known play `The rising of the moon,' which is included in the English syllabus of Plus Two students of the state," says E.T. Varghese, president of Rangachetana.

Translating a play

Lady Gregory (1852-1932), along with J.M. Synge and Irish poet W.B. Yeats, was a leading activist of the Irish theatre movement that influenced the whole theatre culture of Europe.

With Synge, she was, to a great extent, responsible for the establishment of Abbey Theatre. The Malayalam version of the 40-minute play titled `Theeram' (Coast) is based on the translation by poet K. Sachidananthan. The play looks into the life of a revolutionary, portrayed by Unnikrishnan Nellikkat. Ramachandran Vadakkiniyath and Ajayan act as police constables with E.T. Varghese, as the sergeant. A seaport and a quay are the backdrop of the play.

The play was premiered at the recently concluded national book festival of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi. The troupe is amid its preparation to present the play at other schools in the State.

The play focusses on two characters. One is an Irish patriot involved in the Irish freedom struggle. The other is a sergeant, a man badly in need of money,who is attracted by the reward announced by the Government for arresting the patriot. The meeting of the sergeant and the patriot lead to an entertaining and edifying conversation, resulting in arousing patriotic feelings in the former. Finally the sergeant realises that the man in conversation with him is none other than the patriot whom he is in search of . "From our experience we found that the best way to attract children towards serious theatre and to tap their inherent theatre skills is to initiate them into theatre by showing plays from their school syllabus. It makes learning more interesting," says Varghese, who directed the play.

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