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Umang: Silver Jubilee Celebrations

Umang, one of Delhi’s pioneer children’s theatre organization completed 25 years of consistent activity this year. In the course of the last two and a half decades Umang has produced nearly 50 plays and trained over 3000 children through the medium of play acting, song and dance. One of the definining features of Umang has been to integrate children from varying socio-economic strata of society by putting them together on stage. Says Rekha Jain, founder and chairperson of Umang: “I have long believed that theatre provides a platform for the creative expression of children, and goes a long way in instilling confidence and the right values in them. At Umang annual theatre workshops, children from diverse backgrounds have learned to work together, nurture the right values, and to respect each other.”      Umang was founded primarily to provide children from less-privileged backgrounds the opportunity of artistic expression that was not otherwise available to them. Two of its guiding factors have ben the instilling of joy and discipline in all endeavours of children’s lives, and using aesthetics to power their imagination.         Umang has evolved a clear philosophy of artistic merit, so children’s theatre was taken seriously, to match the highest standards of the best theatre in India. It became evident that the use of theatre in schools helped the children sharpen their perceptions and acquire leadership skills that otherwise remained dormant due to the passive nature of education. It also helped develop sensitivity within children’s minds of the inequalities in society, and instill value education and integration in different sections of our society. Finally, though Umang’s success must be measured in how it has managed to convince the parents of children from the poorer sections of society to allow them to participate in its workshops against great financial pressure when such time could have been spent contributing to the family income.      A four-day long Umang Utsav (5-8 October 2004) was organized during which seven plays were performed by diferent schools and organizations that work with children, the festival featured around 500 participants. The inauguration was followed by Rang Umang, a short film on the journey of Umang. Through the four days of the festival, there was a carnival in the Kamani premises by children of folk artistes who put up  different forms of traditional entertainment and an exhibition of photographs, masks, costumes etc. marking the 25 years journey by Umang.      The festival ...

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