The Ishara International Puppet Festival (IIPF) is back. Presenting a 15-day-long festival of puppetry, showcasing acts from world-over, Ishara kicks off in the Capital today. Unlike last year, where the focus was a mix of traditional and contemporary acts, this time, Delhi will get to see some modern and experimental puppetry performances from countries like Indonesia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Spain and India. “Every year we try to bring something new and different. This time, we have paper folded puppets and performances with string puppets,” says Dadi Pudumjee, director of IIPF.
Out of the many performances lined up for this ninth edition of the festival, the act from Indonesia is something to watch out for. Divided into two acts, Gugurnya Rahwana and Sita Haran, the performance revolves around the whole drama of Ashok Vatika where Ravan and Ram go into a battle against each other over Sita. “The act is visually stunning and we have used wooden puppets. This story is very popular in Indonesia among puppet lovers. The play is often performed by puppet masters and liked by the public. We hope to get the same response in India,” says Wawan Gunawan Ajen, director of the act.
There will also be three acts from India — Anokhe Vastra, The Little Prince and Hamara Circus. While Little Prince, directed by Arvind Gaur, is a poetic recitation of a little boy’s discovery of the world, Anokhe Vastra, is a humourous and energetic retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. “We’ve used large masks, colourful costumes and very lively music from Brazil,” says Pudumjee.
So is there any relevance to the story that was written 150 years ago? “It is as relevant today as it was then. It highlights pretentiousness and social hypocrisy in the society and of course, we have contemporised it by using colloquial terms and modern problems,” he says.
Where: India Habitat Centre (IHC) and Epicentre Gurgaon When: February 4-15 Tickets: R100 and R250 Tel: IHC: 011-43663090 Epicentre: 0124-2715000
Meet a young puppeteer from Delhi
Shameem, 22, is a passionate puppeteer. It took him two years to create seven characters for his performance, Hamara Circus.
“All the puppets have a body of wood but the faces are done with paper. I have personally carved each character from their hands to shoes and other body parts,” says Shameem, who runs his own puppet group with the name Kuch Kuch Puppet Theatre.
For his performance, Shameem will be using the technique of string puppets, a form where the strings are attached to a wooden cross and are moved accordingly.
Explaining his performance and what the act is based on, he says, “It’s a satire on how everyone in today’s world is playing some kind of circus in order to pursue their dreams.” Shameem will be accompanied by a fellow puppeteer Umesh Kumar, in his performance. Catch Shameem perform the act on February 14 at Amphitheatre, India Habitat Centre, 6.30pm onwards.
Want to be a puppeteer?
Professional puppeteer’s training programme:
The one-year hard core training programme aims to teach all four types of forms in puppetry — string, shadow, rod and glass. The course is well-designed with various modules. Contact: Katkathapuppet@gmail.com
Sri Aurobindo Institute: Learn the art of making puppets. The styles range from simple rod puppets to larger-than-life figures and object puppetry figures, shadow, glove and mixed media. Contact: 011-2656 1986
Do it yourself: All it takes to make your own puppet is an old sock and ten minutes. Take an old sock and put it on your hand. Mark where you want the eyes to be with a marker. Remove the sock and stitch two black buttons onto the sock where you had marked. Decide how long you want the hair to be and cut strips of yarn to the desired length. Line the strips up and tie them in a knot in the center. Glue the hair to the sock behind the eyes and your puppet is ready.