The National School of Drama is giving children from across the country another opportunity to learn and improve their theatrical skills at an 11-day children’s theatre festival, “Jashne Bachpan”, beginning in the Capital this Sunday.

The spotlight will be on performances by differently-abled and mentally challenged children. They will display their creativity and imagination in three meticulously crafted plays -- “Dakghar ” by Bodhir Bidya Bhawan (West Bengal), “Dastaan-E-Dilli” by Arth-Aastha (Delhi), and “Buddhuram” by Seagul Theatre (Guwahati).

According to NSD theatre-in-education chief Abdul Lateef Khatana, the special children will be performing for the first time at “Jashne Bachpan” which is hosted by NSD’s Sanskaar Rang Toli.

The plays have been selected through a gruelling process. A special committee viewed the DVDs of 17 plays performed in Hindi, English, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Manipuri, Bengali, Assamese, Marathi and Nepali.

Admitting that despite the formidable presence of NSD in Delhi, Hindi theatre was still not a commercial proposition, NSD Director Anuradha Kapur said Gujarati and Marathi theatre have been doing well commercially. “Though we do not lack spectators for our plays, Hindi theatre has not evolved in the commercial format. The upcoming Jashne Bachpan will also have free entry. But we cannot help it because children’s theatre is always free. We would like special children including visually challenged to turn up for the plays, especially those brought out by physically and mentally challenged kids.”

Though a majority of the artistes would be children aged between eight and sixteen, some adults will also be in the cast.

According to Ms. Kapur, the festival also serves as a platform where children from different parts of the country interact with each other in a congenial atmosphere. “They learn from each other through discussions and observing performances of other artistes from different States. NSD would be interested in knowing what are the ambitions of these children and what annoys them.”

Veteran Hindi actor Mohan Agashe has been invited to inaugurate the children’s festival.