To emphasise the significance of performing arts in improving educational needs of children, ASSITEJ India on Tuesday announced a week-long “International Theatre Festival for Young Audiences” (TIFLI), which will be held at Bal Bhawan here from February 17.

According to TIFLI festival director and active theatre practitioner Imran Khan, all people working with the children in plays are linked to education in one way or the other.

“We aspire to popularise theatre as a tool in children’s educational needs and overall personality development. We conduct workshops to throw light on different aspects of theatre. For the first edition of this festival, we have roped in stalwarts of theatre who will rub shoulders with new entrants in this performing art. Mohammad Shamim Ansari, who started with the Salaam Baalak Trust and has now become a famous puppeteer travelling across the globe, will be one of the participants. Then we have Niranjan Goswami, who specialises in mime. Manav Kaul, a young playwright, is also participating,” Mr. Khan added.

Noting that the festival is a celebration of childhood through theatre, Mr. Khan said it will bring together artists, plays and educators from India and abroad.

“The festival will showcase theatre performances, symposiums and seminars for educators, workshops, platform shows and competitions for children.”

Since environment has become the favourite subject of all creative people these days, the festival will touch upon global warming and climate change.

Speaking to The Hindu, ASSITEJ India president Ashish Ghosh said it was important to expose children to theatre.

“ It is important for children to watch plays of different genres so that they develop confidence to conceptualise their plays in schools. Art intervention is recognised in schools. Theatre improves concentration and the observation power of children. It would not be an exaggeration to say that children’s understanding of different academic disciples shows an all-round improvement,” he said.

Dr. Ghosh, currently working with the National Council of Educational Research and Training in developing curriculum, said he has been conducting classes of Bachelor of Elementary Education in eight colleges of Delhi University.

Since this is an international festival, TIFLI will see participants from Denmark, Germany, Sri Lanka and Iran. It seeks to reach out to students from government as well as private educational institutions.

Set up in 2004, ASSITEJ India is an alliance of seven children’s theatre groups. It was officially recognised by the ASSITEJ International as the gatekeeper centre, thanks to the initiative of Mizoram’s renowned theatre practitioner H. Chhawntluanga.

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