The recently held puppet show was a big hit with kids as the three folktales hit the right note.

How many of you have seen a stage come alive all at once. Now let's throw in some colour, some sound, loads of background music and cheers from the audience. That's exactly how the auditorium transformed into action during the “Until Life...” a puppet show by the Kerala-based company Minnaminungukal Puppets Theatre Cie held recently. Directed by Brigitte Revelli this puppet show was one which people wished would last for more than the 90 minutes that it did.

Layering, shadows, masks, Kathakalli puppets, glove puppets, handheld puppets and body puppets were used to create a patchwork of short stories. The story circled around life and around planet Earth. As the larger-than-life crow made its way onto the stage kids and adults could not stop cheering. And even though the crow remained the crowd favourite, the other dolls, body puppets especially Ravana and the big puppet that depicted the ocean stayed the most colourful and alive puppets one had ever seen.

Earth can sustain life and is the main source of water. Using variations of a human psyche the play moved on step by step to reveal the changing attitude of man and how we as humans should be alert to take the warnings given by nature and take them seriously.

The play also touched upon nature conservation which is missing today. The kids were taught how to respect all elements present in nature. The story drew instances from daily life and inspirations fromeveryday happenings to help the audience understand how life and earth are interconnected.

The three folktales that kids loved were about the goose that laid golden eggs, and how the farmer's greed led the death of the goose and put an end to his dreams of becoming rich overnight.

In yet another tale where shadows were used to reinstate the importance of working hard to reap the gains.

“An old farmer once told his sons that after this death he wanted them to dig up the earth and there they would find all that they dreamt for”

The last of the folktales was that of the woodcutter who asked for death till it came and then all he wanted was life no matter how it was. Each tale was distinct, interesting and used various forms of puppetry to convey the message.

It was the richness of the body puppets and the Kathakalli dolls during the Ganga-Yamuna depiction and the story of Bali Vijaya that actually integrated folk tale with contemporary art. Though very alive and full of zest the plot seemed to be a little weak as children did not quite get the story.

SURYA TEJAS II, National Public School: This is my first time I watched a play. And I had so much fun. I loved the crow. I have heard two stories. The goose and the farmer. My grandparents told me these tales. The play was about plants, trees, animals and birds.

AKSHATA, I, Vidya Mandir: I have gone for many plays and I love all the puppets. I don't know much about the story but it's to do with Earth.

SIVA M.J AND SANJANA BALAJI, IV, Chettinad Vidyasharam: We have gone for plays. We are friends and we both loved the scenes when the crow appeared. we laughed so much. We loved the stories. Especially the farmer and his golden egg. And we loved the part where Narada put the doll inside his mouth.

Keywords: Puppetry

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Archana SubramanianJune 28, 2012