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Person of the month

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things

AYSHA RAU

AYSHA RAU, Playwright, Author, Founder and Managing Trustee (The Little Theatre Trust), Festival Director (The Little Festival), Actor, Model co-ordinator, Casting Director, Copy Writer, Social Entrepreneur, Global Ambassador (TIAW) for India, World Of Difference 100 awardee-2013 (non-profit/NGO EC member (ASSITE!India), and Blogger (www.mealsonwheelsonveaweek.weebly.com), was educated in the UK and holds a BSc honours degree in Marine and Microbiology from the University of Portsmouth.

Though Aysha had a degree in Marine and Microbiology her heart was really in writing and the performing arts. She joined the advertising business in 1980 and worked with Agencies like Ogilvy & Mather, J. Walter Thompson, BBDO & ACIL. During this period she honed her writing skills, first as a copywriter and later gained wide experience in writing for various media such as newspaper and magazine ads, audio/visual presentations, film scripts and jingles for the radio, etc

In 1991, Aysha Rau founded The Little Theatre. The Little Theatre not only aims to help children overcome the stress of schoolwork through high quality theatre productions but it is also a great platform to help discover their hidden talents and overcome their inhibitions by participating in creative workshops and also by acting in their annual productions.

Under the able direction of renowned theatre director Pralayan,Aysha produced ten street theatre plays. she worked on the content of the scripts with Pralayan on various issues such as child labour, bonded labour, HIV/AIDS, public hygiene, discrimination against women & girls, the need for education & especially the need to educate our girl child, perils of old age, supporting and helping children with learning and physical disabilities – helping them to be mainstreamed, etc. Pralayan then developed the script along with the actors. All these street theatre productions were in Tamil and enacted by the children of The Little Theatre’s outreach programme which is conducted at the Middle Corporation School, Chetpet (students at this school come from the adjoining slums). Typically each production played in 5 to 10 slums around the city.

In 2010 Aysha Rau set up an air-conditioned studio for toddler theatre workshops for the 2 to 4 year olds. She is a pioneer for these workshops in Chennai. She also started The Little Festival in the same year. This Festival is envisioned as an international theatre festival for children by adults and usually includes an original musical produced by The Little Theatre. The Little Theatre has hosted 5 editions of this festival.

The Little Theatre’s outreach programme funds theatre workshops for 200 underprivileged children and grants ‘seven-year education scholarships’ for two girls and two boys every year. This programme has been in existence for the last 20 years. She is particularly interested in Arts Advocacy and in seeing that India works towards an education system that supports the Arts.

Now, having been involved with the theatre in various capacities for over 23 years and with the idea of using theatre as a tool to combat violence and also as an instrument to help educate underprivileged children, Aysha’s goal is to set up India's best performing arts centre in Chennai so that theatre can become a self supporting business

Aysha lives in Chennai has been married for the last 30 years to Jayraj Rau and they have a daughter and son: Rohini Rau and Ajay Rau. Her hobbies include Music (Had piano lessons for 9 years), singing, sailing, motor mechanics, needlepoint tapestry, sewing, cooking, reading, writing, swimming and squash.

Aysha has scripted 19 Musicals and Christmas Pantomimes and Produced 38 Musicals, Christmas Pantomimes and Street Theatre Productions.

Aysha’s smorgasbord of achievements include :

Published Work :

    Three children’s books are

    • “Marine Life” published by Scholastic
    • “Life in the seas” published by Puffin
    • “Amazing fish” published by Puffin
  • “The dreamer and other stories” This book is a compilation of short stories by 10 well known children’s authors. It was presented to Abdul Kalam in his second year as President of India.
  • “Hey! Listen to me!” by Aysha Rau (a short story from the perspective of a pomegranate)

Work in progress:

  • Manuscript for the fourth book “ The Forbidden Forest”
  • This is the first of a series of 7 children’s adventure stories books. I’m now working on the manuscript of book five which would be book two of this 7 part series.
  • An adventure series involving 4 young super heroes. The working title is “Spanish Onion Heroes.”
  • And a Murder Mystery Novel for adults. The working title is “Black Crow Rising.”

Acted in:

  • 1991 Jack and the Beanstalk
  • 1992 Sleeping Beauty
  • 1993 Alladin
  • 1994 Cinderella

Scripted:

  • 1993 Pinnochio (A Musical)

Scripted, Produced & Acted in:

  • 1995 The Little Mermaid

Scripted & Produced:

  • 1996 Snow White and the Travelling Circus
  • 1997 The Frog Prince and the Royal Catwalk
  • 1998 Puss in Boots
  • 2000 Oddbods ( A musical)
  • 2000 Cleopatra
  • 2001 Elves & the Shoemaker
  • 2002 Robinhood! Wanted for good!
  • 2003 Beauty and the Beast
  • 2005 King Arthur & his nights
  • 2006 Romeo & Julieto in Mexico
  • 2007 Pirates of the Curriedbeans
  • 2008 Robinson Crusoe spaced out!
  • 2009 Shylock! Merchant or menace?
  • 2010 Rip Van Wrinkle!
  • 2011 Alice in iland ( no wonder!)

Produced:

  • 1999 Ali Baba & the forty thieves
  • 2004 Herculess
  • 2006 Don’t Stop Us now
  • 2010 Kingdom of Joomba
  • 2011 Atita! Outta thiz world! (July 2011)
  • 2012 GAPSAA! Fully Loaded! (July 2012)
  • 2012 The Free Musketeers!
  • 2013 Atita! Into the unknown!
  • 2013 Lord of the Bling!
  • 2014 Atita! The curse of the Xeno!
  • 2014 (December) In the process of producing “Cinderella”

All these are original scripts of 2 to 2 1/2 hour full-fledged Christmas Pantomimes, based on well known stories using songs, dances and over the top humour), and Musicals for the public

Produced & worked on the scripts for ten Street Theatre Productions:

Under the able direction of renowned theatre director Pralayan, I produced ten street theatre plays. I worked on the content of the scripts with Pralayan on various issues such as child labour, bonded labour, HIV/AIDS, public hygiene, discrimination against women & girls, the need for education & especially the need to educate our girl child, perils of old age, supporting and helping children with learning and physical disabilities – helping them to be mainstreamed, etc. Pralayan then developed the script along with the actors. All these street theatre productions were in Tamil and enacted by the children of The Little Theatre’s outreach programme which is conducted at the Middle Corporation School, Chetpet (students at this school come from the adjoining slums). Typically each production played in 5 to 10 slums around the city.

Produced:

8 Choir and Orchestra shows by the little theatre’s choir and orchestra conducted by Victor Philip

Created, developed and author of four blogs and three websites (I continue to regularly update most of them) :

  • http://thelittletheatre.blogspot.com/
  • http://vestas420nationals.blogspot.com
  • http://toddlertheatre.blogspot.com/
  • www.mealsonwheelsonceaweek.weebly.com
  • www.thelittletheatreindia.com
  • www.thelittlefestival.com/
  • www.aysharau.thelittlefestival.com

Twitter accounts: Aysha Rau@TLFChennai & @TLTindia

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