By Bini Mishra:
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~Albert Einstein
It all started with a two day workshop in ‘The Bakul Foundation’ with Marc-Andre-Roy that I developed an instant likeness towards the world of puppetry which is amusing, fascinating and provoking.
A puppet is an inanimate object that is used as a representative item and can be manipulated according to the will of the puppeteer. Puppetry is a form of theatre that dates back to the 5th century BC, having its oldest mention in the records of ancient Greece.
There are various kinds of puppets used in puppet theatres such as rod puppets, string puppets, shadow puppets, human puppets and many more which can only be created using specific substances, but object puppets can be created using everyday entities assembled prior to or during the show itself, thus conveying the expressive and narrative capabilities of everyday things.
Mundane objects effectively activate the imagination of the audience as well as of the puppeteer. The characteristics of personality, voice and movement of the puppets are the ingredients that the puppeteer keeps in mind while creating a puppet. Since the puppet is the medium of expressing ideas that are often impossible to express through ‘human actors’, it brings notable changes to the outlook of the puppeteer.
The voice modulation techniques adapted by the puppeteer enhances his communication skills, often bring to the world, the emotions generally not expressed during normal courses of conversations often makes the practitioner more expressive. The movement of the puppet during the show is what catches the eyes of the audience. When the puppeteer, generally dressed in black attire (to divert the focus of audience towards the puppets and signify that the puppeteer is invisible) moves all around the stage, it is the perfect way to ‘let go’ of all the inhibitions realising the changes in the self-conscious state. The personality of the puppet is generally a reflection of the puppeteer-its medium to connect with the outer world. The personality of the puppet is what makes the audience half-participants in the whole show. The puppet when given a name, a voice and movements, is moulded into a whole new character. Take for instance a broom which is given the name “people pa”. With an old and trembling voice, the audience is given a picture of an old tree that is intelligent and has experienced many phases of life.
On the whole, issues of life and death, man’s fleeting glimpses of his Gods, loneliness and isolation and moments of ecstasy are analysed, portrayed and commented on by pieces of objects termed as inanimate and emotionless. The conveyance of ideas from the puppeteer to the audience through the puppets is the perfect example of crystallization of complex thoughts into simpler ones.
Tired of meeting deadlines? Find the world boring? Take a break! Switch to object puppetry!