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Tapping the talent on city streets
In a bid to bringing these children into the mainstream society, Humanity Association is going to organise a children�s theatre festival in February next year
Sharmi Adhikary

Kolkata, November 28: These children from the various slums in the city will be facing the audience for the first time. But a city-based NGO is making sure that they do not lose their steam.

In a unique bid to bring these children into the mainstream society and make theatre-lovers realise the mettle of these children, Humanity Association is going to organise a children theatre festival in February next year. Participating in the festival will be numerous slum and street children from different parts of the city.

�Seven directors of various theatre groups of Kolkata and the districts have been selected to train these children who will take part in the festival. The directors are choosing a play and then zeroing in on the children who will act their parts. We have programmes comprising these children where we try to educate them, train them in song and dance. But this festival will be a step forward. But a lot is still left to be planned,� said Amit Chatterjee of Humanity Association.

Some of the directors in the project are Sourav Gupta of Theatre Spandan, Avi Chakraborty of Ashoknagar Natyamukh and Raja Bhattacharya of Blank Verse. The others are from Birbhum, Bankura, North and South 24-Parganas.

For instance Sourav Gupta is working with children from the slums in Amherst Street. The children being trained by him are going to stage a Bengali adaptation of Oscar Wilde�s �The Selfish Giant�.

�There were many children but some of them were toddlers. So I chose 15 out of them who were interested to participate and who would understand what was going on. But I noticed that the children were very eager to learn and were very enterprising,� said Gupta.

Gupta adopted a unique way of rousing the children�s interests. �I told them the story in parts and then asked them on how that could be done through play acting. They gave many suggestions and I have tried to incorporate all their suggestions. Their response has been very encouraging and they are catching up quickly. They look forward to the rehearsals and the days I am not able to conduct the rehearsals they complain the next time I go,� said Gupta.

�The objective of this project is to prove that if these children are given the opportunity then even they can prove their mettle. This programme will also establish to the theatre fraternity in the city that they too can perform when the opportunity is given and when the occasion beckons. The children too are very talented and gifted. Many of the suggestions given by the children are simply brilliant. I am trying to bring out their responses to theatre,� said Gupta.

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