Rekha Jain

Shrimati Rekha Jain was born in 1924 in Agra. She obtained diplomas in Hindi literature and Hindustani music, and embarked upon her artistic career with the Indian People’s Theatre Association in Calcutta in 1943, working with Sombhu Mitra and her husband Nemichandra Jain. From her mentor Shanti Bardhan she imbibed the dance-drama style while working in the Central Ballet Troupe of IPTA in Bombay. She toured the country as a member of the Troupe in the 1940s, rousing people by performances and collecting funds for political activity. Post independence, she directed and acted in plays for IPTA in Allahabad and conducted performances of music and dance. She started working with the Children Little Theatre in Delhi in 1956 and also received training at the Asian Theatre Institute. In 1979 she started her own group Umang and pioneered the concept of neighbourhood theatre with a view to providing an avenue for artistic expression to unprivile- ged children together with those of the upper classes. A leading playwright, choreographer, and director of children’s plays, Shrimati Rekha Jain has evolved a distinctive style of theatre in which child performers use music, dance and poetry to create and enter a magical world that both entrances and educates. Her productions of plays, mostly written by herself, such as Sa Re Ga Ma Tak Dhina Dhin, Ganit Desh, Swadheenata Sangram and others are deeply rooted in an Indian aesthetic sensibility and are at the same time contemporary and socially informed. Even at eighty-three, her creativity, enthusiasm, and desire to take on new challenges in the sphere of children’s theatre remain undiminished. Shrimati Rekha Jain has published more than twenty plays for children, apart from books, articles and reviews on Indian music and folk dance. Several of her plays and folk music performances have been broadcast on television and radio. She has directed children’s theatre workshops in many cities all over the country. She has been honoured for her varied work by the Hindi Akademi, Sahitya Kala Parishad, Delhi Natya Sangh, Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi, and other organiza- tions. The National School of Drama has published a book on her titled Rekha Jain (2001), authored by Mahesh Anand. Shrimati Rekha Jain receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her overall contribu- tion in the performing arts.