New Delhi: The ancient performing art of puppetry will receive a fresh lease of life when 10 puppet theatre ensembles capture the change in puppetry traditions and innovations at the ninth Ishara International Puppet Festival 2011 Feb 4-14 here.
Performers from India, Indonesia, Israel, Turkey, Italy, Britain, Spain and Holland will stage different genres of theatres, from traditional string puppet shows to shadow and music performances, and interactive plays featuring modern and old narratives.
The festival was conceived nine years ago by ace Indian puppeteer Dadi Pudumjee, the founder of the Ishara Puppet Theatre, to revive the millennia-old tradition in the country and expose it to movements around the world.
The Ishara Puppet Theatre, the driving force behind the festival, was set up here in 1996. It works with a core group of puppeteers, artists, actors, dancers, masks, puppets and various other means.
It uses visual poems, folklores, epics, myths and satire as its narrative. The ensemble often engages itself in education and health care-related outreach activities to build opinions.
The highlight of the 2011 festival is a comic adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen`s fairy tale, "The Emperor`s New Clothes", in Hindi. The play will use masks, puppets, colourful costumes and Brazilian beat music.
"The hit play, which was first produced in the 1980s, is now being revived with a new prologue after nearly 20 years. It has a colloquial twist to it," the founder of the festival, Dadi Pudumjee of the Ishara Puppet Theatre, told IANS.
The play will be staged Feb 4 at Epicentre in Gurgaon.
Well-known actress Rashi Bunny will enact a solo Hindi adaptation of "The Little Prince", a novella by Antoine de Saint Exupery, to be directed by Arvind Gaur.
The play, written in riddles and sprinkled with poetic metaphors, will feature puppets to accompany Bunny`s solo act, Pudumjee said.
"The festival is a mix of both traditional and modern performances. Puppeteers from Indonesia will stage a traditional rendition of `Penculikan Dewi Sinta - Sita Haran`, from the Ramayana, combining puppets and shadow play," Pudumjee said.
It will be performed by Ki Dalang Wawan Gunawan at the India Habitat Centre Feb 7.
The second act of the play, "Gugurnya Ravana", to be staged at Epicentre will narrate the story of the rescue mission mounted by Rama and Hanuman to rescue Sita and crush Ravana in Sri Lanka.
"Puppet theatre is changing in the way old stories are being interpreted and performed on stage. The new wave of puppet theatre will be represented by countries like Turkey, Israel, Spain and the UK," Pudumjee said.
The Train Theatre from Israel will Feb 8 stage the "Rain-Bird - A Paper Tale", a comment on the decline of the environment.
It will tell the story of the extinction of the mythical rain bird which lived in an evergreen forest at the end of the world, when humans encroached on its green habitat. The little village inside the forest grew into a city and the rain bird disappeared.
"The Red Balloon" by the String Theatre Marionettists from the UK to be staged Feb 10 at India Habitat Centre is the story of a little boy`s friendship with a balloon. The 40-minute performance is known for its commissioned music.
"Pregnant Earth", to be staged by Joan Baixas Arias from Spain Feb 12, promises to be a multi-media visual feast with live painting and live music.
Performer Joan Baixas Arias paints with mud on big illuminated translucent screen and creates a kaleidoscope of colours and imageries with slide projections.
The festival will be accompanied by a three-day introductory workshop on visual theatre, "Smile Worldmap" by Spanish poet-puppeteer Joan Baixas Arias in collaboration with Nico Baixas.
"Puppet theatre in India needs much more patronage from both public and private institutions. It has a wealth of traditional perspectives but very limited performance space," Pudumjee said.
Puppetry finds mention in Aristotle`s "On the Motions of Animals" in 4th century BC.
However, many scholars believe that it existed 30,000 years ago also and flourished in Egypt in 2000 BC. In India, the tradition dates back to nearly 4,000 years ago.
The festival will be spread across two venues -- India Habitat Centre and Epicentre.