April 2, 2007

Inspiration for the day

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Kochu Narayanapillai, Rangaprabhat, Alumthara, near Venjaramood, Thiruvananthapuram

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36 years ago, Kochu Narayanapillai, a school teacher started a theatre for children at Alumthara, near Venjaramood, 27 km from Thiruvananthapuram.  Rangaprabhat, which began as an experiment has now grown into a movement that has won honours like G.D.Birla award for preserving national heritage, Ikeda International award and the Gandhi Media Centre award.  It has been recognized as a resource and training centre by organizations like The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Gandhi Smrithi and Darshan Samithi, Sangeetha Nataka Academy and the Department of Culture.

Like many innovative attempts, Rangaprabhat too had a difficult childhood.  Although the training was provided free of cost, those days acting in dramas was considered taboo by the villagers and thus village folks were reluctant to sent their wards to attend it.  Kochu Narayanapillai had to exercise his power as teacher to convince the reluctant parents.

The children who come to Rangaprabhat mainly belong to the economically lower class or middle class families.  They are given training in all areas of the theatre like acting, writing, stage creation, mask making, dancing and playing musical instruments.  They are also introduced to appreciation and criticism.

A typical day starts at 5pm.  At the beat of the drum, students assemble at the stage in a disciplined manner.  After a short prayer, they share the day’s experience, their thoughts and anxieties.  “Nowadays children do not get the opportunity to vent their feelings.  The meeting is a way of expressing their feelings and this has helped me a lot to identify potential problems”, says Kochu Narayanapillai.

Do the children go into theatre field after they leave Rangaprabhat?  “We are not focusing on the career of children.  Students from here may or may not become theatre personalities but we assure that they will become good human beings, an asset to the community”, says septuagenarian Kochu Narayanapillai who runs the theatre with the income from his fellowships and pension.


Courtesy: S.Binu Raj, The Hindu, February 25, 2007
Contributed by: Administrator


"Children and fools tell the truth."