Too many kids grow up thinking that Shakespeare is boring. However, an engaging production of a play and involvement with the Shakespearean world in creative ways can brush away all the cultural baggage that weighs down Shakespeare and the notion that the plays are hard to understand.
A group of 29 children at a summer theatre workshop by Ashvattha seem to have tided over the barrier quite effortlessly. From Hamlet’s raving monologue to Brutus’ speech in Julius Caesar and the ultimate shrew-taming champion Petruchio’s plot to woo Katherine in Taming of the Shrew, the workshop brought alive parts of some of Shakespeare’s popular plays.
With a week to go before their final show after the workshop ends, the children displayed a remarkable zeal to learn the nuances of Shakespearean language and enact the perfect emotions of complex plays like Macbeth and the classical comedy of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Handling Shakespeare is no easy task. But these children have been extraordinary in their capabilities to understand the plays and the characters, said Shyla Kurma of Ashvattha. This is the first time in the past seven years that Ashvattha picked up Shakespeare as its theme in the summer theatre workshops for children.
The young performers are no less thrilled! I love playing the king of the fairies. It all seems so magical, beamed seven-year-old Kavya Reddy, who enacts the role of King Oberon in Midsummer Nights Dream. Ishita Singhania, a class nine student, is equally excited to play Shylock in Merchant of Venice. It is an evil role. But there character has several layers to it, she said.
The participants are in the age group of seven to 15 years – a majority of whom were hearing Shakespeare for the first time. While their main instructor Ms Kurma ensures that the kids get the Shakespearean poetry right and understand the essence of each play, Shashank Dutt Kancharla helps them with voice throw exercises.
This is an essential part of theatre which helps the performers to have a powerful dialogue delivery on stage without stressing the vocal chords, she added.The 15-day workshop will end on May 13 and the children will showcase the plays later.