Theatre

Talking peace with puppets

SLICE OF LIFE A scene from “Meeting”

SLICE OF LIFE A scene from “Meeting”   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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A Tunisian production, staged at the just concluded 16th Ishara International Puppet Theatre Festival, turned out to be a ‘meeting’ point of ideas

‘I’ll let you in on a secret after the show is over’, said Mathlouthi Ameur, one of the puppeteers from the National Center of Puppet Art, Tunisia at the 16th Ishara International Puppet Theatre Festival.

This particular table top puppet production was called “Meeting”. It was a linear tale of a musically talented protagonist following his heart and achieving much fame and applause at the cost of almost abandoning his beloved daughter who too blossoms into a fine musician, though always pining and pressing to meet her father at least once. The ‘meeting’ happens when the protagonist gets invited by his home country and in the concert joins her daughter, concluding the production into a happy ending.

The secret was that it was the real life story of the director of the production, Mehouachi Lassad. He finally met her daughter when she turned 20. This made the audience comprising young and old alike to wonder: how far would one go to get what one wants? Thus the production, although meant for kids, was full of humanitarian and philosophical complexities, making it like a breath of fresh air from the usually superficial children-oriented productions.

This said, the production did lack a certain pace and got drawn into much long silences, leaving the audience wondering as to where the storyline might be heading. A crisper cut to the production with better lighting and projection will do wonders to enhancing the exquisite puppets and the story in itself.

However, what inspired one more was when another puppeteer of the company Ben Hamouda revealed how Tunisia as a country has been going through political instability and yet the government has dedicated funds, infrastructure, processes and venues for the arts and culture segment. “To travel within 10km of the Tunisia-Libya border is strongly discouraged, and extra care should be taken when travelling around Tunisia due to recent attacks carried out on the country by Islamic extremists,” said the puppeteer when asked about the recent events the country has faced.

Commenting on the unifying effect of puppet art, Dadi D Pudumjee, Managing Trustee Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust, said, “A few years ago we had countries who won’t see each other eye to eye such as US, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Spain and India all in one festival. Puppetry brought these artists/countries together on one platform, and that final group picture of that year’s festival went viral on social media. We need this to happen more often, as artists and above all as human beings we share so much in common, and even if we don’t acknowledge this, it’s important that we get to know each other and let others, especially children and youth see that this is very possible.”

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 3:25:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/talking-peace-with-puppets/article22891885.ece

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