When was the last time you saw a kid peel their eyes off a screen? It’s problematic if you don’t recall. Picking up on this rather dangerous pattern, a group of socially-conscious youngsters from namma ooru are breathing life into an art form that is now, nearly extinct — puppetry. And their name? An intelligent pun — PuppeTree. Ahead of their show on July 9, the group consisting of Anvitha Prakash, Sharada Murthy, Sindhu Bhaskaram and Anup Simha tell us more about why they thought to bring back the magic of strings to the city’s vibrant cultural landscape.
“In this era of technology where kids are introduced to gadgets even before they learn how to speak, it’s important to introduce them to an art form that inspired animation. It’s nearing extinction and if not brought back in a way that this generation can relate to, it will most definitely be difficult to find this form in the years to come,” say the creatively-inclined lot, unanimous on why they think it’s needed. The initiative was inspired by Puppetland founded by Anvitha and Anup’s grandfather, theatre veteran, Late AS Murthy in the 70s. “We also look up to Anvitha’s father, a second generation puppeteer and director of Hanumanthanagara Bimba, AM Prakash, for guidance and lessons in puppetry. He taught all of us how to handle our puppets,” recalls Sindhu, whose love for the arts drew her to this project, and is today also the reason she’s pursuing a diploma in performing arts from Attakalari Centre for Movement Arts.
Their stories take on everything from current social issues to commentaries on addiction to gadgets, water scarcity and parenting. “The primary characters are an animal-loving Thatha, street musicians Bob and Joe and a relatable little girl named Tori,” says Anup, giving us a peek into the puppets designed by his sister and father and handcrafted by Hari, an art student from Kalamandir School of Arts. “One of the stories even revolves around how parents don’t have time for their children these days and satisfy their guilt by buying expensive gifts for their children — including mobile phones. It snatches away the fun of childhood, no?” says Sharada about the one-hour show. Although Sharada’s tryst with the dolls goes back to seeing Kathputli puppets dance in Jaipur, the group met at Hanumanthanagara Bimba, an innovative platform that encourages in bringing out latent talent and creativity.
Their primary audiences might be kids, but they promise that it’s also for adults with a child in them. “We want everybody to go back enriched with great memories, entertained without technology and leave satisfied with a new experience,” says Anvitha in conclusion, looking forward to a calendar packed with shows in the city. The show will take place on July 9 at 7 pm at Shoonya — Centre for Art and Somatic Practices....