I’m sitting in the base of S-47* Pansheel Park (a residential area) in South Delhi on a Sunday morning. On stage, Samta Shikhar & Bikram Ghosh is performing a new play, Bends and Flows, directed by Subhashim Goswami. But it’s the audience that is really striking. Toddlers and preschoolers all below the age group of three are seen bouncing on their parents lap with their eyes glued on the performer.
Family-friendly and delightful, Shikhar and Ghosh’s performance is thorough and well-researched work designed specifically for audiences this young. There is a clear dearth of plays and theatre for toddlers’ at least in Delhi (I don’t know about Mumbai & Bangalore), and this wonderful initiative is a welcome change. After becoming a parent, I’ve never taken our toddler for any LIVE show (even movies); I am very prickly of sideway glances and eye rolling. The thought put in by the Bends and Flows team is highly appreciable; firstly, the timing (11 am) perfectly suited a toddler, the venue (a no-nonsense room), and the exclusivity of the play and safe knowledge that everyone else in the theatre will have a baby made the show special for me as a mother. SO even though there were few wailing cries in between the performance—no one batted an eyelid.
My first experience of toddler play was Butterfly Kiss, a play directed by Elinor Agam Ben-David—performed by actor Hagar Tishman, last year. Though it was a wonderful play, what spoiled it for me is the presence of older kids. The children (above 5 years) filled the Stein auditorium in Indian Habitat Center with their parents and grand parent, and took the centre stage away from shy toddlers—the main addressee. Barring that the concept of the play was so simple and beautiful that it was actually a shame that the audience could not get the most out of it. In a more intimate setting, that show would have worked!
From what I reckon, the toddler requires more intimate settings and less distraction as they are yet to join schools (only few go to playgroups) and that the idea of too many people and a foreign environment can be intimidating for them. The slow and subtle approach with a check in number of attendees can make a huge difference.
This is where the Bends and Flows team scored. The director Subhashim Ghosh was standing right outside the auditorium, and he clearly made me feel at home even though my son got scared by seeing the new settings. So hats off to the Bends and Flows team, it is clearly a step in the right direction.
The cherry on cake for me was when out of the blue, Bikhram Ghosh started singing “Aha ki anondo akashe batashe” and it teleported me to the land of my childhood where Gupi and Bagha played a very important role.
Presented in collaboration with the Tadpole Repertory.
Performed by Samta Shikhar & Bikram Ghosh
Direction: Subhashim Goswami
Assistant Director: Neel Sengupta
Costume: Divya Jain and Virginia Rodriguez
Production: Anuj Chopra and Ankit Pandey
Lights: Anuj Chopra and Neel Sengupta
*S47 is an initiative of The Tejeshwar Singh Memorial Trust
P.S. I saw this play few months back and putting it on the blog now. But as they say better late than never. This play deserves more reviews and coverage than it got.