The fact that puppet theatre can also be enjoyed by adults as much as it is by children was proved at a recent puppet performance Krafff , which had no structured story, narrative or characters. Instead, through music, dance and movement, the four actors — Julien Geskof, Maia Le Fourn, Christopher Noel and Isabelle Monier Esquis — put up a fascinating puppet show.
Directed by Johanny Bert and choreographed by Yan Raballand, the actors of Krafff created the life-like puppet within four minutes on stage, using four long strips of brown kraft paper.
The show was presented by Le Fracas, Centre Dramatique National Montluçon, in collaboration with the Embassy of France, Avantha and Ranga Shankara, at Alliance Francaise. The strike on October 6 did not deter Bangaloreans from attending the wonderful puppetry, theatre and dance performance.
“The performance showed that puppetry is a universal language. We chose to do away with dialogues and a linear narrative so that each audience member would be able to derive their own interpretations,” says Julien Geskof. “The most interesting part,” adds his partner Maia Le Fourn, “was the contact we made with the puppet. It was a challenge to synchronise our movements, but we enjoyed doing so.” The performance has been inspired by the German author Heinrich von Kleist’s famous philosophical short essay On the Marionette Theatre, in which he wonders if a puppet can have more grace than a human being. “Puppets can do many things the dancer can’t. It has no restraints, unlike the human body. It is easier to experiment with unique movements with puppets,” observes Julien. Maia points out that the performance was not only a co-ordinated performance among the actors but also between the actors and the paper figurine. “We work like dancers behind the puppet. In Krafff , there is no frame within which the puppets are created, we developed it on an empty stage, which varied from one performance space to another,” says Maia.
“The audience either didn’t notice us at all, engrossed only in the puppet or they observed both us and the puppet. The former was the primary response,” says Maia, adding that the audience in the three cities they had performed — Chandigarh, Delhi and Bangalore — enjoyed the performance thoroughly and that “there was much laughter, which at times was punctuated with awed silence.” They initially performed in schools in France and later evolved this puppet theatre for a mixed audience, says the duo.
Maia and Julien were both trained in classical theatre in the Conservatory, but when they met puppet masters, they discovered several other aspects to theatre as they learnt how to make and work with puppets. “In the past, Maia and I did a show in which the puppet is a plastic paper which we put on our hands. We make puppets from any material, depending on the movements.”