Theatre

Reviving a dying art form

Puppetry festival  

It is general perception that there is no patronage for hereditary arts like puppetry in the present era of technology and multimedia. Proving it wrong , the two-day Goutami Leather Puppetry Festival conducted on the sprawling grounds of Mc Lauren's High School recently drew huge crowds. Puppetry artisans from East Godavari district gave three performances on the two days, besides conducting an exhibition and workshop on puppetry on the sidelines of the festival.

“We arranged for 800 chairs at the venue and felt that they are sufficient. The response is quite surprising,” says Ganji Madhavi Latha, secretary of the Association for the Promotion of Puppetry in Andhra Pradesh (APPA), which organised the festival. The sprawling premise was well-decorated with electric lights and a huge screen was arranged. To remind the audience of the art form, the artistes performed an episode from Virataparvam by using oil lamps, petromax lights and power lights simultaneously on the screen on the first day of the festival. The show continued for an hour and after that the artistes performed an episode from Sundarakanda.

“These artistes are in the habit of performing the show throughout the night. We had a tough timeconvincing them to perform only one episode, as we can't expect the audience to sit throughout the night,” says Madhavi Latha.

The crowd on the second day was much higher , so much so that some guests were left standing. . Padmavyooham, an episode from epic Mahabharata was performed in unique two stages for about three hours. Besides the main characters, trademark comic characters Kethigadu and Bangarakka made the audience laugh. The performance made the senior citizens nostalgic and the younger generations watch live the performances wide-eyed .

Behind the huge screen, over two dozen dedicated artistes worked to give their best output. The close coordination between those who play the puppets behind the screen and give lip syncs to various characters, those who assist the main artistes by handing them over the puppets for the next scene and the orchestra is remarkable.

“There is no dearth of puppetry artistes in our state, as at least 100 families per district are still depending on this age old art form. This is the right time to revive the art form by way of encouraging it,” says Madhavi Latha.


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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 3:47:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/reviving-a-dying-art-form/article2853120.ece

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