The young participants of Kids @ Play are once again gearing up to showcase their talents at the end of September to present an evening of fun-filled theatre, song and dance in Once Upon a Mix-Up. The Drama Workshop conducted by Professor Neluka Silva for the 5th consecutive year takes on a different theme: Mixed-up priorities. Through these plays, devised and acted by the group, ranging from the ages of 8–14 years, the idea of how we get mixed-up in our priorities is explored.
The plays, written by the participants and then work-shopped since March this year, deal with issues that are very real to all of us, especially to the young group. The basic storyline of Sara Perera Saves the School was written by Nimaya Harris (9 years) and subsequently developed by the participants. It revolves around a group of school girls who decide to confront the landlady, architects and builders who are involved in demolishing their precious school and replacing it with a science lab and luxury apartments. The heroine bravely enlists the support of her friends in this challenge.
In Uniformity Ltd., the boss of the company, Mr. Functional, stamps out diversity and expects everything to be "uniform" so that he can earn lots of money. This works until his new employee, Ms. Variety comes in with other ideas. She shows him how other priorities are more important. The third play Fairytale Mix-Up, begins with a fight between a brother and sister for the computer and by clicking various buttons, the software goes horribly wrong and it brings to life our most loved princesses. The princesses are expected to help their father, the "Good" King, as he tries to defeat his evil brother, but finally his daughters show him that he should help his brother.
Once again, the performance is the culmination of a process and journey that began with 43 participants working on different aspects of theatre under the guidance of Neluka Silva. Over the years the young group, many of whom have been there for five years, have developed a range of skills that are not confined to the theatre. The main elements are confidence-building, team work and creativity – all skills which Neluka says are crucial to the world we live in. From the beginning, the young actors are encouraged to "think" as they create the scenes and characters.
In addition, an issue which is relevant for our daily lives is emphasized. Last year, the focus was on diversity and how important it is to recognise and acknowledge it. This year's theme was thought of since there is so much pressure on conformity, making money and competition which both parents and children experience. By discussing this and presenting it, we are forced to see how important things are not given priority and the actors will present this theme in a dynamic way that is also guaranteed to be thought-provoking and fun.
Once Upon a Mix-Up will be performed at the Punchi Theatre, Borella on September 26, 27 and 28, at 7pm. Programmes are available at the theatre. Electronic media sponsor for the performance will be Real Radio, while the print media sponsor will be The Sunday Times.