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Seen a puppet show lately?

Have been meaning to write about a slightly different form of entertainment I enjoyed a few days ago. A puppet show at the Alliance called Fox Story with Vaish for company. Later, we realized that behind all the entertaining music, dialogues and songs were just 3 guys (where we thought was a whole team of about 10 people!).

It was an interesting experience in that I don’t quite remember going for a puppet show in the recent past. I guess it’s not a form of entertainment one comes across very frequently. I’m glad I wandered into the hall after class. The entrance was free too, so I’m wondering how these folks manage to make money.

Everyone seemed to have a good time – adults and children alike. Vaish kept exclaiming ‘too cool’ and guffawing at regular intervals! The trio kept peppering their English and French dialogues with Kannada and Hindi phrases and that was really hilarious. Frenchmen speaking Kannada is pretty much like a true-blue Kannadiga trying to speak French!!

The group performing, I later found out thanks to Vaish’s research, and an article in The Hindu today, is called The Theatre of the Small Mirror (Théâtre de Guignol). The company was formed by Jean Luc Penso and he’s even worked with Cambodian artists to do a human shadow play adaptation of the Ramayana. Apparently, Penso fell in love with Chinese puppets 35 years ago when he saw a 10-minute documentary film on the art made by his guru and filmmaker, Jaques Pimpaneu. When he was 19, he went off to Taipei to study with a Chinese master, Li Tien Lu.

The group has performed in over 65 countries. Isn’t that impressive! I have always admired those who follow their calling and I think it’s pretty admirable that this trio have managed to bring alive this otherwise dying art. I believe the art of puppetry is still practiced in many rural areas in India, though I personally haven’t seen much of it. To make a profession of it would definitely require much courage and confidence in the art.

Today’s supplement in The Hindu has an interesting write-up on this puppet theatre group.


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