This is theatre with a purpose. The Bangalore Little Theatre (BLT) group’s latest play “Ali oh Baba” will not only entertain but also raise funds for the city’s underprivileged children. All proceeds from the play produced by Bangalore’s oldest English theatre group will go to Dream A Dream, a voluntary organisation working for underprivileged children.

The play will be staged from Oct 30 to Nov 1 at Gurunanak Bhavan, Vasanthanagar. There will also be special morning and afternoon shows for schools during Oct 27-30. “We have invited various schools in the city to send their children to enjoy the play and be part of a noble cause,” Jeeno P Jacob, a volunteer with Dream A Dream and coordinator of the event, told IANS.

The two-hour English play has been directed by Shashank Purushotham and Priya Venkatesh, assisted by theatre veteran Vijay Padaki, who founded BLT five decades ago. ” ‘Ali Oh Baba’ is a contemporary adaptation of tales from the classic “One Thousand and One Arabian Nights” in a fresh, modern and interactive format, making it fun and relevant to the present day while retaining the original form,” said Purshotham. “The story unfolds on the stage in the form of day dreams of a little boy discovering the ‘One Thousand and One Arabian Nights’ He and his friend, a little girl, share their discoveries with the audience through games, narratives, song and dance. In the process, the key characters are drawn into the play.” he said. “Recreating the age-old tale of Ali Baba in this new avatar as a total family entertainer for the young and the old alike has been as exciting as it has been challenging for the entire team.” he added.

Padaki said: “As a community theatre group, BLT is committed to maintaining a social development perspective in all its activities. An academy of theatre arts created by the BLT Foundation has thrust programmes in theatre education, with a special interest in reaching the underprivileged schooling system.”

Dream A Dream was established in 1999. As part of empowering disadvantaged children, the NGO helps them develop various skills. Currently the NGO is working with 1,500 children.

According to experts working in the field of child rights, in recent times the number of children, especially street children in Bangalore, has increased manifold. “The exact figure or percentage of street children in Bangalore is hard to provide as the number fluctuates. But due to the increase in the gap between rich and poor in the city, we can easily say that the numbers have increased hugely in recent times,” said Vishal Talreja, founder member of Dream A Dream.