‘AHA!’ is an expression of wonder, excitement and fulfilment across languages and cultures.
‘AHA!’ is an expression of wonder, excitement and fulfilment across languages and cultures. Thatʼs what Arundhati Nag, our Founder, called our Theatre for Children programme. Nothing could have been more apt for a programme of its nature because these are the emotions that theatre arouses, among audiences as well as performers.
‘AHA! is Ranga Shankara’s most ambitious programme to date, bringing the magic of theatre in all its aspects to children. Launched in 2006, AHA! has grown organically and continues to do so, adding programmes, dimensions, audiences, international collaborations and more, as one of the countryʼs most important and sustained theatre for children programmes.
Shows of AHA! plays happen at Ranga Shankara and outside. During school months, we organise school shows that brings busloads of children to the theatre. AHA! plays are also scheduled as part of our regular monthly programming and admission to these shows is open to all – children and grown ups. From the time of its inception in 2006, AHA! shows are being watched by close to 30,000 children every year.
AHA! is a promise to bring to our children the best of theatre, theatre that speaks to their aspirations and concerns, theatre that reflcts the times they live in. Under AHA! we produce plays at regular intervals in Kannada and English that bring the together great stories and an extremely talented team that puts it together. The productions are designed for different age groups allowing us to include 18-month old infants to 14 year olds. Not to mention of course, that all these plays are a delightful watch for grown-ups too.
“An AHA! production is among the most joyous things we do. First comes a relevant story that connects with and excites the children for which we are scouting literally around the world all the time. Then comes the team – from the playwright, director and actors to the backstage crew and the marketing teams, everyone is committed and tuned to the outcomes.”
– S Surendranath, Ranga Shankara’s Artistic Director
Not surprising then, that AHA! productions with varied themes have captivated young audiences in India and abroad.
Through the AHA! Theatre for Children Festival we showcase some extraordinary national and international productions for young audiences. Plays come from several countries of the world for this festival that takes place in Jun-Jul every year. In the Indian section, we present the best of what India is watching that year and also bring some folk forms that our young people should see. The AHA! Festival is over a fortnight, with productions that are designed for different age
We are happy to speak to you if you work in Theatre for Children anywhere in the world. Do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to bring your play to Ranga Shankara, to invite us for your festivals, want to do collaborative productions, do workshops for children and practitioners here in India, bring your school for a play, get us to your city, sponsor shows for the lesser privileged, etc.
At Ranga Shankara, we believe in recycling and reusing as much as we can, converting a simple prop to a fully equipped puppet theatre — the ‘Maruti Puppet Theatre’. Perhaps the smallest theatre in the country, this theatre has been built into the boot of the Maruti 800, India’s beloved family car. The theatre accommodates one performer only but can have an audience of up to 25 children.
The car itself has no engine and only two wheels. It is equipped with professional light, sound and infrastructure that includes cyclorama, wings, curtains, a small revolving stage, a shadow screen and an operating system so that all kinds of puppetry performances— puppets, shadow puppets and miniature puppetry, etc can be performed.
‘Maruti Puppet Theatreʼ was launched to expose children as young as 3 to their own theatre experience so that they develop an appreciation and sense of wonder for the dramatic arts.Parents are not permitted to accompany them for the show!
“Do I know U?” is an Indo-German theatre partnership between Ranga Shankara and Schnawwl-National Theater in Mannheim, Germany. In workshops, guest performances, exchange of artistic staff think-tanks and the co-production Boy with a Suitcase, the artistes of the two theatres met over a period of two years to enrich each otherʼs theatre practice with skills, to deepen dialogue on theatre for young audiences in a culturally diverse environment and to introduce new aesthetics to artistes and audiences alike.
As the fial highlight of the partnership, Boy with a Suitcase was rehearsed in Bangalore and Mannheim, where it opened on 10 Apr ʻ11. The play has since seen more than 100 shows in India and Europe, having garnered critical and audience appreciation in all the festivals it has been invited to.
Come summer and we have eager parents and children lining up to register in our fun, intensive and meaningful theatre workshops that are facilitated by a handful of carefully chosen theatre professionals of the country. Summer Express provides a guided space for young people to share their energy and find an outlet for creative expression. Neeraj Kabi, Padmavati Rao, Anita Salim, Sujay Saple, conduct workshops for us regularly. Every year, Summer Express covers about 300 children through various workshops.
Summer Express takes place in the months of Apr and May every year. Registrations are open from early Mar and are announced on our website and social media.
Our Little Cloud programme brings the ancient art of storytelling to children in a thrilling atmosphere. Little Cloud offers children a chance to explore the art of listening. These sessions encourage an independent imagination and promote creative daydreaming. Little Cloud sessions are for children in the age group of 4-7 years. They are held over weekends, in English, Kannada and Hindi. They are led by such experienced storytellers and theatre makers as Padmavati Rao, Ameen Haque, B Jayashri, Sihi Kahi Chandru, Chethana Nagaraj, Kamal Pruthi, M D Pallavi, Dr H S Venkatasha Murthy and Mallika Prasad.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our signature storytelling programme went digital, continuing to bring the magic of theatre to audiences through new channels. 31 artistes, 37 stories, 6 languages, and 2 classical Indian art forms - check out our Little Cloud Online Series 1 and 2!