Children's Theatre in Karnataka

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“The child is the father of man”. The children have enough potential to withstand all the harsh situations if their foundation is having the right orientation. It is the critical phase where the mental state of the human mind gets most affected by the socio and psychological setup they go through. Kids don’t have qualitative bias but the root for the same and what is right and what’s not is imbibed by them gradually in the childhood itself. So the children who are the assets of nations are to be molded with a deep understanding and process. Theatre is that process that plays a major role in designating the character of a person. Fine arts and literature gas shaped the personality of many great persons. Some of them include none other than the father of the nation M K Gandhi who as a child got influenced by Satyaharishchandra’s play. Similarly in the Dakshin Kannada district, a boy Shivrama got much influenced by the Yakshagana and today he is a noble laureate Mr. Shivaram Karanth. Even B V Karanth the famous film director a kid used to go on the cycle for more than 10 miles to watch play. No doubt the roots of theatre can be found in the joint family system of Indian traditional society. Where Grandparents had a major role to play. Especially kids are fond of stories of Grandma which takes us to a very different world. It won’t be wrong to say that our Grandma has a repertoire of stories, fables, and proverbs. These folk tales and varied stories from Mahabharata, Panchatantra to stories based on their experiences help in creating a very imaginative world for the kids. These stories help the kids to ponder and also help them to be immune to the internal world. Children’s theatre plays a very crucial role in the development of a kid. Each story they come across has some moral implications. This helps the child to grow with certain values. These values foster as they grow and get transcended to the world. Children’s Magazines like Chandamama, Nandan, Tinkle, etc also had played a commendable job in helping kids to imagine. There are many traditional art forms that are not only a source of entertainment but a means to inculcate the righteous path among their audiences. So in a way, they help to develop an ethical mindset in the kids which is a step towards nation-building. In mid 19th century when the public education system was introduced. There came a need and necessity of content in terms of literature and theatre especially meant for the children who are a distinct unit of the longer society. Thus Public Schools with the initiative of the British The administration took the help of varied tools to clarify the concepts of the kids. Short plays were being used along with poetry so that children would memories the concepts easily. Even in Karnataka, many initiatives were taken by several individuals. Now not only folklore and mythical stories but even feudal stories and societal matters were portrayed on stage. Though many plays couldn’t be found to date due to the absence of publication. In 1913 Canara High School staged a play that is remembered to be a landmark in theatres. Many plays were translated including Tagore’s Daak Ghar. Several writers from Karnataka understood the need for children’s literature and took responsibility for the same. Rashtrakavi Kuvempu is also a significant name in this context. T. P. Kailasam, NS Lakshminarayana Bhatta, etc also have significant contributions. In 1925 Gubbi Veerana Ranga’s children's troops Bala Kala Vardhina played a crucial role. Many plays were written which include- Kabir lile, Jalandhara, Krishna Garuda, etc. Tiger Varadachariar of Mysore took special efforts and made children act in plays. Many child artists later, became great actors like- Dr. Rajkumar, Narasimha Raju, and B V Karanth. Dr. Shivaram Karantha’s great contribution is that he took children’s theater from school to commonplace and people. His style was influenced by Yakshagana which is a traditional art form of Coastal Karnataka. He remolded it into character art and taught the same to the children. He believes that theatre should not be confined to boundaries. He believes that children get more to learn in open spaces and recreation of the new environment is a must for these buds to bloom. His way of working was different from the conventional style. As he included animals and birds as characters in his plays. Allegory and agitation were used to establish a new setup and develop a critical attitude in children to relate them with the contemporary realities. Some play of the time include- Kakaparinaya, Kunchitantra, Manganvaduveya. Since many of the scripts were just in the oral form they got lost. Heggodu in Shimoga district is a landmark for world theatre today because of Neelakanteshwara Natya Seva Sangha commonly known as Ninasam. K V Subbannna director and founder said that theatre is an activity of the community. It is a process of self-evaluation by looking at the self and creating a mental construct of its collective experience. Since children are part of the community its must to take them into account and teach and entertain them through theatre. In 1972 Panjarashaale play under B V Karantha is a milestone in the history of Kannada theatre played at Ninasam. More than 120 children participated in this play. Many child artists associated with this art group are now into full-time theatre, films, and television. Presently it is headed by Akshara K V son of K V Subbanna. B V Karantha Contribution is not only confined to Karnataka but the entire nation. The way he staged the play with music and design is par excellence. He manifests the child's potential and makes them use their optimal energy. Bharatiya Rangashikshana Kendra is a theatre training institute of Rangayana in Mysore. It’s the brainchild of B V Karanth. It runs summer theatre camps for children. Chidambara Rao Jambe, former Director of Rangayana Mysore says how in Rang Kishore eminent personalities discussed their theatre experiences. NSD -Delhi Graduate Smt. Prema Karanth wife of B V Karanth is parallelly contributing to children’s theatre. She says theatre for children is the sole means of expression. She runs Benaka Children Drama Centres. She has directed more than 50 plays. She says children are full of energy and potential only the need is the right orientation and theatre does it. N S Venkatrama has been immensely working for the upliftment of children’s theatre in Banglore. He had directed the Kannada version of Arabian Nights, Snow-white, etc. Similarly, A S Murthy of Bimba organization is playing a pivotal role in child personality development through the means of theatre. Not only this he believes that students should not be chosen as per their character. Rather his stories are based on the child’s demands. His inputs had been helping a lot to blossom the field of kids in theatre films and television. Late C Basavaligaiah- former Director Chinnaramela Mysore along with his wife set up a research center in Dharwad for youths. They work on various folk art forms. KG Krishnamurthy student of Nimansa is the founder of Kinnar Mela Tumari. He dedicated his whole life along with his entire family. It does tours and provides various courses as they believe in educating and entertaining should foster a good aesthetic sense. Veteran theatre activist I K Bolwar of Niratha-Nirantha, Puttur visit schools and asks them to write act and direct plays. As he believes that such activity from childhood can create great writers among the mass. No formal requirement for children’s theatre is required. Open spaces are the best platform to learn. A meaningful life is possible only if we are enough observant to sense our surroundings minutely. Theatre teaches us to do all these. M Ramesh of “Natana Rangshaala” an eminent TV personality is helping kids by imparting teaching in Dance, Music, and Drama. Undoubtedly the Children's Theaters in Karnataka had been playing a major role in engrossing the kids to understand the societal matter. We should salute the laureates and eminent theatre personalities of the states who believe a child should grow up with a theatres background. There are several troops of children’s theatre still very active in nooks and corners of Karnataka like Abhinay Bharti Dharwad. They are working on the folklore amalgamating it with the recent development. Today theatre is also a profession for many. We must be thankful to the great thoughts who believed that theatre inculcates a democratic mindset. As we get to know the power of team spirit and collective success through theatre.