The Children's theatre takes care to produce different types of plays to different age groups. The specialist playwright, actor and producer use their best judgement and put in their best efforts to cater to the growing mind of the child. Shakespeare and many other classic have been re-adapted to suit the children's theatre; new modes of theatrical presentations are experimented on; new themes are worked out for the child and a continuous effort is made to understand the child's mind and his needs.
The love of the dramatic is inborn in the child: he has a great fascination for the symbolic representation. A broken chair can become a golden throne for him and a long stick, a royal steed. The inanimate is his intimate friend, and he often creates two characters within himself each talking along to the other. This predilection of the child can be fully exploited by the wise writer and actor who can stir and move the heart of children with comparatively limited means at their disposal, and can open to them new worlds of beauty and goodness. It needs an expert to harness the power of imitation and mimicry in children. It needs a specialist to entertain and enlighten them with plays produced especially for them, possibly by children themselves. Theme and presentation cannot afford to be beyond their reach, nor can they be common for all age-groups.
Before the Amateur stage turned its attention to children, the professional stage did try some experiments. The attempt was just to develop a taste in children for enacting plays. G. H. Veeranna started children's troupe in 1924 under the title Balakalavardhini Nataka Sangha and ran it on professional lines for about two decades as a branch of the Gubbi Company. This troupe of young artists toured in different parts of Karnataka and staged mythological plays like Sri Krisna Lila, Kamsa Vadha, Rukmini Swayamvara, Krishna Garudi and Savitri. On the same lines ran another troupe of child artists - the Akka Mahadevi Kripa poshita Mandali of Kollegal, organised by G. P. Mallappa. A third troupe was born in Bombay - The Ananda Sangeeta Nataka Mandali which paid visits to Bangalore and other important towns in Karnataka. These troupes had a certain professional polish and perfection and earned money: but they were hardly of any real service to children. The themes selected by these troupes were too heavy, the dialogues stagy, the music unnatural and the production pompous and artificial. From another point of view, these virtually were professional troupes with all their vices, though run by young boys and girls. These were far from a children's theatre.
It was the Amateur theatre which tried to understand the needs of children. A number of plays were specially written and staged. Karanth wrote and got enacted by the school children of Mangalore a few pantomimes. Ispeetu Gulama, a subtle satire on the caste system, is recorded to have been a good success on the children's stage. Geddavara Satya, which portrayed world politics as a fight between various animals ending in the victory of brutal strength, charmed its child audiences. One of the oldest and most beloved of children's plays is K. V. Puttappa's Nanna Gopala.
Modannana Tamma, another play of Puttappa is equally popular with the children of Mysore. It deals with a cloud persuading a little boy to stay back home with his mother. Several short and charming plays of the good hearted Hoysala like Kalla Sulla Malla, Agilina Magalu, Magu and Vatapi provided rich entertainment to children. Among other notable plays for children, a mention may be made of Amma and Babarana Pattha of Kaiwar Rajarao, Sompina Sagara of Sadashiviah and Sullina Solu of Pandurangarao. These plays hold a promise for the future, though taken together; they form but a slender volume. A new awareness of the needs of children is in evidence. Children's films are now being made in India; children's festivals are being organised on a nation wide scale and the importance of extra-curricular activities in the education of the child has been recognised. It is but natural that every town and village will now take up the question of a stage for its children and build up a children's theatre on a sound foundation. Such a theatre will benefit not only the child but also the village, the town and the Kannada speaking land itself.
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