Probably the first ever animated characters, puppets date back to over 3,000 years. An art of manipulation, puppetry involves a human animator who, using strings tied to the puppets, make them move, act and dance.
It was not just the story-telling style that attracted Preeti Golacha, a theatre artiste from Hyderabad, to puppetry. Having shown a great inclination towards physical theatre, Preeti was wooed by puppetry and wished to delve deep into its history and variations.
When she started checking out options to learn puppetry as a full-time course, her teacher guided her to UNIMA-India, the national centre of the Union Internationale de La Marionette, dedicated to promoting puppet theatre in India. Travelling the length and breadth of the country organising workshops on puppetry, Preeti sees it as an attempt to create awareness. “Puppetry is an ancient form of artistic expression, a variation of storytelling or human theatrical productions. I organise workshops at teacher training camps, schools and summer camps,” says Preeti, who is in Kerala now, interning with ace puppeteer Krishnakumar.
Elaborating on the need to make people aware that puppetry is not just a children’s entertainment and it’s great potential to put out a relevant social message, Preeti says, “Never would I say that puppetry is a dying art. For me, it’s growing in terms of the number of audiences who watch it with utmost sincerity and are wowed by its potential. People like me who are interested in learning the art of puppetry are also growing in number. This is indeed a good sign. My workshops are all aimed at the same. We deal with puppet making, puppet manipulation and performance aspects of puppet theatre using body and sound. The fascinating interplay of the inanimate and the living and its various applications, on and off the stage, is a delight to watch.”
In the initial stages, those who take up the art do not prefer traditional puppetry, she observes. “Traditional folklores are way too elaborate. In contemporary puppetry, the areas for improvisation are endless. Traditional puppetry like tholpavakooth in Kerala, a type of shadow puppetry, narrates various stories associated with gods and age-old traditions. The content doesn’t change nor is there any scope for change. However, contemporary puppetry can make anything and everything as a topic of discussion; puppets can come in any shape or size or numbers. There is limitless freedom with both the form and characterisation of puppets,” says Preeti, who has a personalised puppetry series called Material Mala, a mix of puppets that deals with the issue of environmental pollution and problems that degrade the planet. The aim, she stresses, is to propagate a thought beyond entertainment.
Preeti confesses that she is still a beginner and believes that one of the toughest aspects about puppetry is to decide which puppet represents each character. However, she finds it as a privilege to be a creator which gives her a space to think for society.
Ask about her future plans, pat comes the reply. “I want to inspire more people to learn this beautiful art of puppetry. I want to collaborate with other puppeteers, actors, dancers and other creative people and direct shows and workshops that will entertain people and become a stage to portray their thoughts on various social issues.”
Preeti’s puppetry workshop ‘Introduction to Puppet Theatre’ will be held in Kochi on Sunday and Monday from 10 am to 5 pm at Arthouse 18, Desabhimani Road. For further details, contact 9645040646....