Play Reading Event at JustBooks Vidyaranyapura – recap by a parent

Here’s proof that JustBooks Vidyaranyapura is one of the most popular amongst its community & residents – a recap of the Ranga Shankara play reading event:

It was a cloudy Sunday morning, when I took my son to the Shakespeare reading event by Vasanthi Hariprakash organized at Justbooks Vidyaranyapura. I try not to miss the innovative events for children at Justbooks, and so I made sure to attend this one too. After all, who would like to miss meeting and hearing own ex-RJ of Radio City?

After a quick introduction, Vasanthi started by getting a pulse of the audience, mostly children, and some parents like me. She went on to elaborate how the idea came about seeded by Rangashankara and Mrs Arundhati Nag, when she went to London, and also place the event in context. The idea was to discover, appreciate and enjoy the beauty of drama in Shakespeare’s works, which are commonly perceived as ‘difficult to comprehend’. So the goal was to develop the interest in childen to read seemingly complicated literature, and derive its benefits and pleasure. And Shakespeare is but the archetype of English literature.

Vasanthi made the event more interesting with a quiz for the kids and a crown prize and also picked judges from the adults in the audience. All this seemed spontaneous, yet it was loaded with humour and drama in itself, when all the randomly picked judges’ names started with ‘M’ and the work itself was Midsummer Night’s Dream!!

As Vasanthi read out the book in totally dramatic tones, the audience got absorbed and transported to the scenes. All the children were involved, or had to stay involved and play some role!One child was asked to point out the characters from a poster on the wall, and mention their ages and looks. Another child enacted bowing and curtseying, while other children were asked to comment or ask questions or answer them, all of this being done in a very friendly un-intimidating manner conducive for involvement and participative learning. The importance of tonality and visualisation of the text was effectively highlighted. Children too, interjected with interesting, bizzare & funny comments and reactions to the story events. They were kept in rapt attention due to the quiz at the end of the session. Everyone knew that they would have to repeat all the 16 characters in the story, and started memorising Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, Egeus, Peter Quince, Bottom, Flute, Snug, Puck, Oberon, …

Diving deeper into the story line, Vasanthi lightly portrayed the characteristics of the characters, such as over confidence, greed and such. She made it easier for the children to relate to the details by helping them identify them with well known and understood examples. Switching context from the story to real life and our own fantasies and going back gracefully was an art that helped in effective comprehension. Vasanthi called the session profound, and so it was indeed. The children were able to relate well to the interwoven stories and even make suggestions and alterations!

The children were themselves asked to summarize the story at the end, and this was followed by the much awaited quiz and the crowning ceremony with an imaginary crown designed by the children! Mr Vittal of Justbooks asked the children what they would like to do next, and not surprisingly, most of them said they would pick up more Shakespeare books for the upcoming holidays before they left the library! After the accolades and a round of chocolates, we all walked back home happily, as if returning from the scenes of the drama.

Congratulations to Justbooks on successfully organizing not just this one, but a variety of such educative and entertaining events!

We residents, specially parents, in Vidyaranyapura are fortunate to have such a wonderful forum with Justbooks, to help harness the best of our children.