Here’s a company that aims at making learning more interesting for children through recorded theatre in this Internet age

Who does not like to listen to a story? Who can resist a well-enacted tale? Storytelling, in incredibly innovative ways, is the in thing now. Recorded theatre is one such medium gaining more fans by the day.

Musee Musical wore a festive mood. The occasion was the launch of the Cloud Theatre Company, whose mainstay will not be performance theatre. Instead, it will help reinstate the love of learning lessons through stories. Thus began the compere for the evening, Yohann Chacko.

Teasers from the pilot module held out promise. Here we go round the mallipoo bush, began Sunny Abraham with three kids in tow, singing around a green bush. He later teamed with the talented Sharanya Gopinath to don the roles of the company's mascots, Che and Cha, a la Alice in Wonderland. The duo told the tale of how Tigra got its stripes. Equally arresting was dancer Amrita Frederick who with Sandeep John as Lola and Ra regaled the audience with the story of the pedestrian idli and vada.

Innovative combination

Theatre per se is not new, but Internet is. The idea is to combine the two forms innovatively, said Kartar Singh, managing director, Cloud Theatre Company. The former deputy director of British Council said recorded theatre is the digitised version of the oral tradition of learning, which is audiovisual and live. It’s ideal for smartboards in the classroom and a learning style likely to appeal to the tablet-toting young of today. Recorded theatre is not new; it’s been used so far mainly to entertain. But we want to make education entertaining, emphasised Kartar Singh. More about the three words that make up the name — ‘cloud’ refers to ‘Internet’, ‘theatre’ to ‘medium of self-expression’ and ‘company’ to ‘serious intent’.

An entertaining supplement

There was this teacher who made her students stare at the blank blackboard in front of her as she held forth on what a tree is, while right outside the classroom were several trees swaying in the breeze, bemoaned Mini Krishnan, editor, Translations, OUP, as she moderated a discussion, “Is theatre in education a distraction from serious learning?” Radhika Menon of Tulika Publications recounted how years ago in Kerala teachers were shocked when told to introduce elements of dance, music and theatre in teaching. V. R. Devika felt rote learning was vital to writing exams. “Theatre makes it fun,” said the Aseema Trust founder who learnt Bharatanatyam when she was 23 just to enhance her teaching skills. Dushyant Gunashekar of Crea-Shakthi, an actor-chartered accountant, said theatre allows you to own its content and supplements formal education and so, is a desirable distraction.

According to N. S. Yamuna, creative director of the company, the accent is on creating a digital library of stories in a simple language to help kids move from regional languages to English, helping them do so out of choice rather than desperation. Prakash Mathew, director of CTC, said the company will provide, through theatre for children, the missing textures, colours, poetry and drama of life, to ensure wholesomeness in school education. A six-month drama course for teens and adults, a dance club, a children’s drama club and a study circle for teachers are the other salient features of the company.