Puppets with no strings attached

Urashima is a story that every Japanese child knows. You grow up listening to it and this passes on as hearsay from one generation to another,” says Satoko Yumidate about her group’s performance at Chinmaya Mission recently.

Giving a modern spin to a famous Japanese fable, the puppet theatre group, Yumemi Trunk, put up an entertaining performance in the Capital. Giggles, questions, and queries ‘oh! Mumma what is that!’ reverberated in the hall, as children sat engaged, completely engrossed till the end of the act. 

With no strings attached, this puppetry was more about colourful imagery, placards and props gliding by and performers enacting the story. In the first act, Yagi No Ohanashi (The Story of a Goat), two performers played around with vibrantly painted goats as subjects. Interstingly, while all through the story, one wonders about the fate of the white goat that made its appearance in the first instance, it turns out that it is the white goat that gets influenced by its environs and takes up multiple hues along the way! And therein lies the twist in the tale. With a simple story, the actors narrated how our company affects us.  The act was based on the works of Emi Hiramatsu, a young Japanese-style painter who has created many toy goats, which are described as ‘moving artworks’.

Bedecked with headgears resembling puppets, the actors unfold the second act of Urashima on the stage.  In a musical rendition of the introduction in Japanese, the performers take us into the world of a young fisherman, Urashima Taro. His world is no less than a fantasy as he hops from life on land to that under the water, and when
he returns 300 years have passed by in the small passage of time he has spent underneath the sea. Fraught with guilt for having left his mother alone on shore, he opens the turtle-like bejewelled box the princess of sea had warned him against opening. On doing so he changes into an old man, at the cusp of life and death. Holding the chiming prop shaped like a gate, he collapses. A whispering call from the sea defines the end as the princess calls out, “I told you not to open that box. In it was your old age...”

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