Lives under spotlight

Lives under spotlight

Puppet festival

Lives under spotlight

Children and parents gathered in large numbers at JSS Auditorium recently to witness two beautiful animated performances organised as part of ‘Dhaatu International Puppet Festival 2017’. ‘Swinging Marionettes’ and ‘Marionettes of Sri Lanka’, both string puppet theatre performances from Czech Republic and Sri Lanka respectively, captivated viewers with their unique style of presentation.

Actor and puppeteer Pavel Vangeli from Czech Republic presented the first show, a musical based on old jazz music. It had different sketches and situations full of music, singing, jokes and fun. “The speciality is that I am singing live in their place,” said Pavel.

The act had situational humour involving characters like an angel juggling a golden ball, a devil playing the accordion, two clowns with a violin poking fun at each other, a skeleton and a black man playing the bass waiting for his lover. The performance spanning 45 minutes aroused great interest, especially among the young audience. As Shrutha Keerthi, one of the visitors, said, “I came here with my kids and they really enjoyed the musical, more so since they are learning music presently. The performance was funny, interesting and praiseworthy, given that all the four scenes were very effortlessly handled by one man.”

According to Meera Venkatesh, a storyteller, “I have seen many shows where the puppeteer is behind the screen. But this one was different as Pavel was right in front yet the focus was maintained on the puppets. He used his voice very effectively and the light movements, like the bones flying out and the tongue coming out, seemed really interesting.”

For the puppeteer himself, it was the first time at the festival and he seemed to be enjoying every bit of it. “It’s nice to see the puppet tradition here. The audience is very appreciative and well-educated,” said Pavel.

The next act, ‘Marionettes of Sri Lanka’, was also an engaging one. Accompanied by Vasantha from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs (Sri Lanka), puppeteers Indikagamini, Manjula Kumara and Supungamini presented a vibrant dance by 14 string puppets. “Back in Sri Lanka, we generally tell ‘jataka’ (Lord Buddha’s) stories through the show. But here the puppets will dance to traditional Sri Lankan music played on drums, sarpina and trumpet,” said Indikagamini, ahead of the performance.

They also expressed their excitement to meet puppeteers from other countries and learn about the distinct art of each. With a plethora of other activities organised as well, the festival nourished the talents of various performers and also added a spark to the cultural calendar of the city.