Tales of Dwipa reimagines traditional Indian stories as modern plays with N.L. flavour

Prajwala Dixit was trying to find stories for her daughter combining her Indian and Canadian heritage. Coming up with nothing, she wrote her own.

In Prajwala Dixit's hands, Donald Trump is a wolf who says he'll make the forest great again

Prajwala Dixit is hoping kids come away from The Tales of Dwipa with a stronger sense of belonging. (Prajwala Dixit/Facebook)

When Prajwala Dixit couldn't find stories to to share with her young daughter that combined her Indian and Canadian heritage, she made up her own.

With the help of White Rooster Theatre, those stories have been transformed into short plays that are performed in St. John's parks on Saturdays, so kids of all backgrounds can enjoy them.

"I think diversity should be as easy as breathing," said Dixit. "I think the messaging needs to start very young and very early … and this is one such attempt to bring more diversity into our world."

The series is called The Tales of Dwipa. "Dwipa" is the Sanskrit word for "island," and Dixit wrote each of the plays based on the stories she created for her daughter, which set traditional tales from India in Newfoundland and Labrador-specific settings.

White Rooster Theatre adds a Newfoundland and Labrador twist to The Tales Of Dwipa. (Prajwala Dixit/Facebook)

The plays are performed on Saturdays in Bowring Park, Kenny's Pond Park and Bannerman Park until Aug. 3. The performances are directed by Dixit, Santiago Guzmán and Ruth Lawrence of White Rooster Theatre.

Each Saturday a different story or chapter is performed by a diverse cast of actors.

Make the forest great again?

In creating each of the stories for her young daughter, who is now three, and then turning them into plays, Dixit replaced the original lions, tigers and monkeys with orcas, wolves and caribou.

She also shaped narratives around themes like the refugee crisis and even Donald Trump.

The St. John's version of the The Tales of Dwipa replaces the traditional monkeys, elephants and lions with caribous, orcas and wolves. (Prajwala Dixit/Facebook)

In Saturday's performance of The Tale of the Hare and the Wolf, the U.S. president was embodied by Onti Tola, a lone wolf who marches around the woods, proclaiming he'll make the forest great again.

"When people tell him to change things, he tells them to go back home," Dixit said.

Next week is The Tale of the Small and the Strong, a play she says is about "finding home."

The week after that is The Tale of the Orca and the Chipmunk, a story exploring intercultural relationships through a friendship between a chipmunk and a transgender vegetarian orca.

The Tales of Dwipa performances in Bannerman Park are family-friendly. (Prajwala Dixit/Facebook)

Dixit hopes kids walk away wanting to come back the week after and with a better sense of belonging and a better understanding of the world and the people around them.

"I think stories have immense power and capacity to leave an indelible impression. Stories are the fabric of our society; that's what we are," she said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Malone Mullin