It’s been 25 years since The Little Theatre, a theatre troupe, is presenting the annual Christmas pantomime in Chennai. Every year, they stage a pantomime on social issues that may be needing everyone’s attention.
“It’s been fun and I don’t know how 25 years have passed so quickly. It’s always a challenge to make each year’s show better than the previous one. There is a loyal following for the pantomime in Chennai and over the years, it has become something that people could relate with during the Christmas season. I scripted, acted and produced The Little Theatre’s first pantomime called The Little Mermaid in 1995. Bhagirathi Narayanan directed the show with Joanne Grady of the US Consulate choreographing it. Anil Srinivasan did the music,” recalls Aysha.
The audition for the pantomime starts three months in advance and Aysha says that theatre lovers come with a lot of enthusiasm to be part of it.
“Theatre is the only performing art form that breaks the four walls. And with pantomimes, there is a lot of interaction with the audience — it pulls people to the story and they become part of the entire presentation. The musical becomes more alive. The audience will have a satisfying experience and that’s the beauty of theatre,” says the veteran scriptwriter.
Over the years, people from different cities and even abroad have approached Aysha asking her to present the musical outside Chennai. “I have to politely refuse their invitations. Christmas Pantomime is something special with Chennai and I don’t wish to travel around with the show. That said, theatre enthusiasts from across the country come down to namma ooru just to watch the musical. I can see a lot of familiar faces from different generations in the audience,” she says happily.
While studying in Class 6, Krishnakumar Balasubramanian happened to watch the Christmas Pantomime, Cleopatra. Watching the show, the young boy started developing a love for theatre. After completing his studies, he joined The Little Theatre and started writing scripts and directing shows for them.
“I’ve been associated with the Christmas Pantomime from 2010 and it has been a wonderful experience since then. I have directed six pantomimes and also acted in a few. During the workshops, I work with raw talents and veterans. It’s a huge learning experience,” says Krishnakumar, artistic director of The Little Theatre.
The pantomime for this year is with shows starting from December 13 to 18 at Museum Theatre, Egmore. “Popeye, the iconic fictional character, has turned 90 this year. We decided to bring in the aspect of climate change with the show,” he remarks.