Guwahati: “If you take a child to the theatre, not only will they practice empathy they might also laugh uproariously, or come home singing about science, or want to know more about history…”, a quote by Lauren Gunderson (American playwright & screenwriter) perfectly echoes the sentiments of the 8th National Children Theatre Fest that concluded on January 23. The three-day festival which was held in Rabindra Bhawan, here saw a footfall of approximately 1500 children.
Founder and secretary of Guwahati Sishu Natya Vidyalaya (organisers of the festival), Manik Roy stressing the importance of such festivals that focuses solely on children. said, “Every child must have a brush with theatre at least once in their entire life for it not only enriches the creativity of the child but also helps in the all-round development, be it physical or mental”.
Apart from Assam, this festival pulled in participants from Mumbai, Kerala, Bhopal, and Delhi. There were three plays from different theatre troops from Guwahati, one from Darrang and another from Goalpara. The plays were demarcated into two categories — theatre for the children (where even an adult can participate) and the second being theatre by the children.
The festival had three shows daily for four days. Of the three, one was from Assam and the others from the rest of the states.
The theatre scene of Northeast is already quite enriched with Sankardeva introducing Ankiya Naat Bhaona (theatrical performance in the 15th-16th century. The scenario further ripened with the introduction of mobile theatres and street plays (Bator Naat) in the 1960-70s. Assamese theatre has come a long way and now with the children’s theatre festival becoming a hit, Assam’s theatre scenario is clearly reaching new heights.