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Chandigarh gets glimpse of world folklore via puppetry

People from different walks of life from across the globe took part in the festival and showcased their culture through various forms of puppetry, including stop-motion and string

Updated: Feb 18, 2020 01:03 IST

By Poulami Kundu, Hindustan Times Chandigarh

Nestor Navarro, 37, was a civil servant in Barcelona, Spain, before joining his father’s theatre group. “I quit my job in 2013 to pursue puppetry full-time,” he says.

“I am a journalist from Turkey and puppetry is my passion,” says 54-year-old Masut Sarioglu.

Navarro and Sarioglu were among artistes from Finland, Turkey, Belgium and Spain who were in the city to perform during the four-day international puppet theatre festival which concluded at Tagore Theatre, Sector 18, on Monday.

People from different walks of life from across the world took part in the festival and showcased their culture through various forms of puppetry, including stop-motion and string. Since puppetry is a traditional art form with folk tales being an integral part of it , the city was treated to a week of world folklore.



On the first day of the fest, Royal Puppet Theatre from Finland presented the story of a young boy who takes care of an injured bird. The group’s puppeteer, Hannu Raisa, says, “I have been performing since 1990 and this is the second time I am visiting India.”

The group uses the Japanese Bunraku puppet technique that involves wooden puppets, a music score and different sets. Raisa says, “We adopt stories from popular children’s books and at times we write the stories ourselves,” he says. In Finland, puppetry is very popular among children. It is a medium for storytelling in libraries and there are several puppet theatre groups, he adds.

On day two, a Turkish group presented Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling with string puppets. Sarioglu said that children were their target audience, “Because children give honest and spontaneous feedback. Unlike adults, they express their joy instantly which motivates us to perform better,” he says.

In puppetry, the idea is to tell a story without using too many words. The art form involves inanimate objects that are brought to life through movements, music and emotions. It is almost like a mute cinema at times.

Ronny, aged 64, a Belgian artiste, who performed on the third day of the fest with his son, 21-year-old Wannes, says, “I do not make a lot of money, but this is my passion. In Belgium, the art form is dying due to reduced government grants.”

He has been travelling across the globe to popularise the art, he says.

Wannes is a student and wishes to pursue a career in acting. “We perform stop-motion puppetry wherein the puppeteer is also a character and a part of the act,” Wannes says.

Navarro, who performed on the concluding day, says he uses glove puppets and shadows to tell stories.

Talking about the future of the art-form, Navarro says, “Since this art does not involve screens and the energy shared between the actor and audience is magical, it is a live art form and will never die out.”

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