Kalptaru glues Delhiites with puppets and shadows

The story of a tree and a boy who be-friended it in his childhood, was represented in Kalptaru in a puppet play using shadows as a form of expression at the National School of Drama.

The performance directed by well known puppeteer Dadi Pudumjee, uses shadows of paper cut puppets against a screen, and actors performing along with it.

Based on the story The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, where a boy be-friends a tree as child, and later as he grows up resorts to the same tree for meeting his day to day needs, eventually cutting down the tree for wood. A story of growing up, of want, the need for affection, ones selfishness and above all the grace in giving. The Pudumjee’s Puppet theatre interprets this famous story through shadow images, puppets, actors and music.

Pudumjee is known for his works which involves the use of paper marionettes, actors and dancers performing on stage as well as using shadows to build a three-dimensional effect, which keeps the audience engaged.

‘This kind of a performance does not require a lot of effort, but it needs perfection, the sound and visual effects matter a lot,’ says Abhishek Kumar, a puppet designer.

Kalptaru, or the wish-fulfilling tree, narrates the story of a boy who grew up playing with a tree and terming it to be his friend. As he grows up his priorities change, as a young man he comes back to the tree asking for means to earn money, when the tree asks him to take its fruits, sell them and earn money, he does that and forgets about the tree. Gradually he falls in love and gets married and in need for a house of his own he gets back to the tree, which asks him to cut down the branches and build his house. Eventually he comes back for the last time cutting down the tree for the log to build a boat.

‘We use simple props made out of thermocol and paper and project it on a backlit screen using a projector, we leave a lot to the imagination of the audience, to make it look surreal’ said Kumari Yadav, one of the performers.

The 60 min play was a part of the series of children theatres being performed at the National School of Drama as a part of the children’s theatre festival Jashn-e-Bachhpan.
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