Tribute to Roald Dahl

Published on 4 July, 2014 in Time Out Delhi

Kids get an opportunity to enact Roald Dahl’s works, says Time Out

The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches by Roald Dahl

There are few writers who could grip the imagination of children and adults as well as Roald Dahl. Best loved for his books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The Witches, the former RAF pilot took up writing after he almost died in a fighter plane crash in 1942 in World War II. Not everybody may know that he also wrote the screenplays for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Bond film You Only Live Twice. While convalescing in England with a fractured skull, he would complain of severe headaches and blackouts. Dahl would also have strange dreams, which he would later attribute as the inspiration behind his first collection of short stories, Over to You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying.

To honour the magic of his work, the unexpected and menacing twists to his stories and the fantastical elements, which left the ageless reader wide-eyed in wonder and disbelief, Cynosure India, a local theatre production house is organising a month-long workshop called The Summer Factory for children aged above eight this fortnight. In an email interview, Nitya Kukreja, founder of Cynosure India, told us what’s in store for children.

What works of Roald Dahl will you be focusing at?
While every one of Roald Dahl’s works is a treasure, for this workshop, the focus is on extracts from The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches. Each story is a personal favourite and my aim is to work on the confidence and skills of each child.

Tell us about the theatre exercises, concepts and ideas that the kids will be introduced to.
We have great fun imagining and portraying scenes and portions of the books. For example, we try and recreated how the “Ladder-less Window-Cleaning Company” in The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me would work; how the chocolate factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory really functions with all the oompa loompas; or perhaps, how witches sit together or go about collecting various funny ingredients for their magic potions in The Witches. These will be accompanied by an amalgamation of voice exercises, breathing techniques, music and movement, which comprise the workshop and lay special emphasis on diction and pronunciation.

Take us through the workshop.
The children will be encouraged to work on selected scenes from the books. This will provide a basic framework for them to create their own dialogues, songs and improvisations using Dahl’s magical characters… which we will incorporate into one final performance.

What in your opinion is the beauty of Dahl’s children’s stories?
How he could put himself in their shoes and think like them.

Is there a screening process for kids who wish to participate?
There’s no screening. I believe we’re all here to learn. An enthusiasm for acting is all the children need to be part of the workshop.

The Summer Factory is on from Sat July 5 at the India Habitat Centre.


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