Five performers would appear on stage with a role of brown ‘Kraft’ paper, whose long strips they will unfold, fold, crumple, twist and tie, to create on stage a human-like effigy. This paper figure would be slightly taller than the four actors, who would then proceed to dance with it in full view of the audiences.
Kraff is the name accorded to this performance, which is a subtle blend of puppet theatre and dance, embarking on an unusual Pas de deux (a French term for ballet dance). It concretely tests on stage, a question asked by a 17th century German dramatist and writer, Kleist, in a famous philosophical short essay, On the Marionette Theater: Which of the two, a marionette body or the living human body, is the most gracious?
The event, which will be staged in the city today, has been brought forth by city-based Alliance Française, in collaboration with Delhi Public School, Chandigarh, and CITCO. The performing group is a French company called Le Theatre De Romette, that comprises seven members: Johanny Bert (the artistic director of the company), Yan Raballand (co-creator and dancer), the four actors — Christophe Noel, Isabelle Monier Esquis and Maia Le Fourn and Julien Geskof, and Justine Nahon (the manager), out of whom six are in India.
On their visit to India, they share, “It is the first time that we are performing in India. We really don’t know much about India’s art and culture, but we are curious to discover more about the country,” and add, “The only obvious impression of the country that we formed so far is that India is a society with a huge disparity between the rich and the poor. The driver who brought us from Delhi to Chandigarh refused to accept food that we offered to him. It may be because
of the class distinction problem here.”
About the play called Kraff, which was created in 2007 in France and recreated in 2011 by Bert, informs Yan, “The play is not based on any story or social issue, but is an act where we want to work on the possibilities of the meeting of a human dancer and a puppet dancer. It’s a bond and a meeting that would be possible with the four bodies (actors) maneuvering a unique paper figure, giving shape and rhythmic impulse to its movements.”
During their eight-day tour, the group would be performing in Chandigarh, Delhi and Bengaluru. “In France, the art of puppetry was initially quite famous with children, especially the one involving hand puppets. But these days, with the emergence of contemporary and creative puppetry, adults are also a major part of the audience. Kraff has been performed in France as many as 230 times as people are in love with this show,” Yan says.