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Chennai-based The Little Theatre introduces ArtsLab, a new alternative learning initiative

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Light reflects and refracts; it creates drama and gives birth to shadows. Textbook definitions may restrict light to a scientific phenomenon, but when viewed through an artistic lens, it gains new meaning. And, this is what Chennai-based children’s theatre company, The Little Theatre focusses on, in its new alternative learning initiative, ArtsLab.

Devised as different modules, ArtsLab’s first chapter, Exploring Light, aims to engage children with the scientific phenomenon through theatre, music, dance and art in a month-long course.

“The idea stems from my own personal experience at school. At some point, I fell off the education system’s bandwagon because I couldn’t relate to what I was being taught. Either I had to mug things up or understand in bits and pieces. All we end up doing is containing this knowledge without being able to employ it to be creative,” says Krishnakumar Balasubramanian (KK), artistic director of The Little Theatre who will also lead the module of Theatre in this workshop.

Amid an online session

With schools trying to adapt to an online medium, children seem to have fewer opportunities for experiential learning. This is where ArtsLab comes in. “The main aim is to introduce arts by incorporating science into it. We just want the kids to have fun and learn in the process.”

Exploring light was a choice that came from the need to cater to the basic sensory modules, in the beginning. While physical properties of light will be explored through theatre, concepts like reflection and refraction will be told through art. In addition, wavelengths and frequencies will be dealt with, in movement and dance. These ideas will take shape over the course of a story. To look at light as a source of drama, shadow puppetry will come into play.

While the theatre module of Exploring Light will be captained by KK, singer Lavita Lobo will lead music sessions, choreographer Vikas Rao will focus on movement and dance and artist Ranjani Ramakrishnan will facilitate art sessions. The team is toying with the idea of sound for the next chapter.

“The long term goal is to get more educators on board and enable them to find more innovative ways to teach,” says KK.

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