A puppet play for audiences above the age of eight years, Tila is based on German and Indian folk tales. Produced by Ranga Shankara in association with the Westflugel Theatre from Leipzig, Germany, and supported by the Goethe Institut, Bengaluru, the production will open on August 8 at Ranga Shankara.
The play is about a young trickster called Tila, who thinks he is cleverer than others. The play, using magical realism, reveals a series of witty and humorous episodes from his life. Even while making fun of people around him, Tila also holds a mirror to the world.
Tila is based on the German trickster Till Eulenspiegel whose merry pranks were the source of numerous folk and literary tales in Germany, similar to characters from Indian folklore, such as Birbal, Tenali Ram, Mullah Nasruddin and others.
The play features a talented ensemble of puppeteers and actors, including Shravana Heggodu, Gagan Kumar, Soumya Bhagwat, and Sharath Gowda, who also handles the production. Under the skilled direction of Michael Vogel, the production has music composed by Charlotte Wilde, who is also the dramaturgist of the play. Music will be performed live by Vivek Govindaraja, while S Surendranath will provide the lights.
Talking about her experience working with an Indian team, Charlotte says that the idea to put together this piece started even before the COVID-19 pandemic. “The plan to collaborate with Ranga Shankara was in place before the pandemic hit, so it has been a long journey. Things finally fell in place and we were here. As we had not met the actors before, we visited India and spent a week together to get to know each other. We continued working online, before we returned for a month-long improvisation and rehearsal process.”
Director Michael Vogel says he did not have a storyline in mind while directing the play. “This is a process of exchange, learning and knowing each other. Though I did not have a fixed storyline, I had a feeling and a sense of how the play must be made. The initial process was sharing and improvising tales from each other’s countries and now the piece has turned into a show with music, dance, puppetry and a lot of fun.”
When asked if German audiences would relate to the play, Charlotte and Michael said Indian tales were very similar to German ones.
“The good thing is that the stories are alike, even though the characters are different — the moral or the storyline of each of these tales is similar,” says Charlotte. . “As humans we all share a sense of humour, , vanities, and other characteristics, so the play should be well received in Germany too. Since the musician and performers are Indian, we have tried to Indianise the play as much as possible.”
The hour-long piece will be performed in Kannada for audiences in the state, and in English elsewhere. After its first leg in Bengaluru, the team of Tila will be heading to perform in Germany in September.
Tila will be staged at Ranga Shankara from August 8 to 10. All shows will be performed at 7:30 pm. Tickets available on BookMyShow and the Ranga Shankara box-office.