In the present ‘digital age’, post modern parents are finding it difficult to keep their children away from TV Channels, hi-tech gadgets, video games and social networking sites. At times, they boast off about how easily their kids can handle complex gadgets but when the same kid refuses to leave the gadgets even at the dining table, they wonder whether the same technology is proving bane for their child’s development. Technology makes our lives easy but then it also isolates us from others and sometimes from our own selves. India is going through a rapid transitional phase and in this process the most important stake holders are the young people. How are we assessing our young children? The usual mode of examining a child’s development is his/her Report Card. On the one hand , India is dreaming of becoming a global leader. But will it be able to achieve the goal if its booming young populace is not enough curious, creative and courageous . Can we say that the present day report cards reflect any of these qualities ?
For meeting the present day developmental challenges, we need to find dynamic, energetic and wholesome medium of education. Better training and valuable tutelage. Theatre is a powerful live medium for developing confidence, courage and creativity. It provides a wonderful platform for active learning along with the academics. Live performance sparks the imagination of a child – which is a prime requisite of a valuable education. Mere academics is not enough for the refinement of aesthetic sensibilities.
In the current educational practices, theatre can play a significant role in developing communication skills , balanced self – expression, voice modulation, body moments and a connection of the heart with the mind.
Inspirational stories related to the lives of great scientists, writers, philosophers and world leaders; when played on stage by the kids themselves can provide a life-long enriching experience. Theatre is a powerful , potent and productive medium for providing wide cultural experience which otherwise is not provided by useless TV serials and violent video games.
When children work in a group and rehearse for a live performance they cultivate empathy, a strong sense of community, and togetherness which otherwise is missing in the present day social life of a child. Not only this through theatre, children get an opportunity to learn how to balance their pent –up energies.
In a live performance, when children face the live audience, it automatically imbues confidence and courage. When a child plays the role of a character other than himself it fires his imagination and deep critical thinking. Portrayal of different kinds of human emotions, situations, socio – political circumstances help in developing problem solving capabilities. In the era of globalization, theatre can provide rich educational experiences through international plays like that of Western writers viz. Shakespeare, Ibsen & Brecht; ancient Indian Sanskrit plays as well as contemporary Indian and Hindustani plays. Exposure to oriental stories and regional folklores again helps in developing an understanding of one’s own culture in context with a larger world which is strongly inter-connected. Theatre is a wonderful medium for providing a holistic learning environment.
Is “Theatre for Kids”, new to Indian culture? Professionally it may be a new area but traditionally it was very much a part of our custom, both in the urban as well as rural areas. “Ramleela” is a testimony of our theatrical heritage. Children loved to play the role of Hanuman, Vanar Sena, Luv- Kush and boys disguised as girls played the role of “Sita Ki Sahelian” (friends of Sita) .
Is Jammu lagging behind? No. Young theatre professionals in Jammu are striving enthusiastically to provide a world class theatrical training to children of various age groups. Aarushi Thakur, Sumit Sharma & Ifra Kak are some of the well trained theatre professionals who are giving invaluable contribution to the revival of theatre particularly for kids.
All the cultured and civilized societies value theatre because of its spontaneity, creativity and the magic that leaves the audience spell bound. Technology has its advantages but we should not let it subdue the fertile imagination of young minds. We should promote theatre for kids in order to bring back creativity, ingenuity and spontaneity, which otherwise is overpowered by the gadgets around them.
(The author is Assistant Professor GGM Sc. College Jammu)