Mind Your Head, performed by Gillo Theatre Repertory recently, was a gripping play not just for children, but for adults too
Aditi’s school counsellor is perplexed. Her mother tells him she is worried that her daughter has been, for long, refusing to comb her hair as there are “little people” in it, talking to her. The counsellor wonders how a ‘normal’ student like Aditi, who has never done anything out of the ordinary, could suddenly turn eccentric.
The counsellor soon finds out that the little people in fact speak to Aditi about an event in our country’s history that finds little mention in textbooks.
It is about the Munda rebellion for the land rights of tribals against British rule, led by Birsa Munda. Placed within a contemporary context, Mind Your Head also brought to fore the present situation of tribal communities, who struggle against their lands being taken away by multinational corporations.
Mind Your Head, written by Chatura Rao and directed by Choiti Ghosh, was recently performed at Yours Truly Theatre Alma space, located in CMH Road. The actors of Gillo Theatre Repertory combined music, movement and brilliant performances to tell a gripping story. Varied props, from clay gardens and figurines to ropes and even bottles of shampoo and hair oil, were brought to life by the actors in the format of object theatre.
Even though Mind Your Head was entertaining for the children, the adults enjoyed it too. Shaili Sathyu, artistic director of Gillo Theatre Repertory, says: “We do plays that are engaging, enriching and thought-provoking. We are not here for mere entertainment. A play is a play, whether for children or for adults. World over there are many theatre companies who are producing work for children which is at par and sometimes better than work for adults. If a play is engaging, has something to say, has a strong sense of the aesthetic and has depth as a piece of art, it will appeal to all, irrespective of their age. So even though we make plays for children, they are equally suitable for adults.”
The demand by parents and schools to stage plays and conduct workshops led Gillo to initiate their short-performance-cum-workshop project. Besides Mind Your Head, the other two plays staged at other centres were Mister Jeejeebhoy and the Birds and Granny’s Sari. They also conducted workshops connected to the performances that helped take the children into the play.
Shaili started Gillo Theatre Repertory because of her keen interest in becoming a writer of books for children. “But when I started with the idea of Gillo as a media house exclusively centred on children and young people, the first thing that came to my mind was theatre. I already had some experience in the area and felt it would be better to start with something I am familiar with. So now we have Gillo Theatre Repertory which is the theatre wing of Gillo. We plan to expand into other areas like film making, publishing, e-learning, music, etc.”
Gillo Theatre Repertory plans to return with four plays, with the format of performance followed by workshops, in November this year. “The plays include Hanuman Ki Ramayan, Mind Your Head, Mister Jeejeebhoy and the Birds and Granny’s Sari. These shows are for schools, housing colonies, private groups and other neighbourhood spaces. Let’s hope more parents and teachers take to this format of performance cum workshop,” Shaili concludes.