Of puppets, tales and children

KIDS stuff

Young ones made a beeline to be among the first to gain entry into the auditorium to witness the play Kalptaru by Ishara Puppet Theatre. The kids could not hold their excitement as they jumped and frolicked around paper sculptures stationed around the premises of National School of Drama (NSD).

Staged as part of NSD’s Jashn-e-bachpan, the annual childrens’ theatre festival, Kalptaru kept the tots enthralled throughout its one hour duration.

While narrating the story of relationship between a boy and his friend – a tree, the play extensively used shadow puppetry to great effect. This, coupled with hand puppets, made it a visual treat.

The director of the play, Dadi D Pudumjee took inspiration from Shel Silverstein’s story The Giving Tree to weave the tale of Kalptaru. The story explored the joy of giving, even though the relationship was unequal because the tree gives more than the boy and eventually loses its own self.

At times, the boy and the tree became the same character wherein the destruction of the tree led to degradation of the boy. But the realisation comes too late. It taught the young viewers pleasures of growing up, effects of desires, need for affection, and above all, the joy of giving, to bring a smile on someone’s face.

The story however petered out in the end, as the connection between the ageing tree and the growing up boy was not convincingly developed.

However, the stagecraft won the hearts of all. This is the essence of puppetry – to bring forms alive through the use of simple objects like paper cutouts, wire, cloth and sand etc.
All these were used in the play to create larger-than-life images especially when a male puppet is shown floating in a boat over water. The imagery of coloured leaves and water will stay with the viewers, both young and adult for a long time to come.

What deserves a special mention is the interactive approach and expressive delivery of Abhishek Kumar, who played the boy.

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