Indian Puppeteers message Peace and Nonviolence

By Indhrannie Pillay

The Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust performed their “Images of Truth – Satya ki Pratiroop” puppet show, to an audience of about 500 people in two shows at the Chatsworth ABH on 22 September 2007. The ‘images of truth’ show was commissioned by the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts in New Delhi. Dadi Pudumjee, founder of the trust said, “To date this is one of our most popular shows that appeal to both children and adults alike.” The show deals with Mahatma Gandhi and his ideologies of nonviolence and Satyagraha. The puppeteers reflect instances of Gandhi’s life in South Africa. “The aim of this show is to highlight the importance of us all to overcome hatred and wrath and to come together in unity,” he said. “We are using the puppetry and drama as a way to message peace and non violence.”

The Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust is one of India’s leading creative puppet theatres, which was founded in 1986 by Pudumjee, who has 40 years of experience in the puppetry industry.  His passion for puppets was ignited in his early childhood when he was gifted with a Pelham string puppet toy. This freak introduction into puppetry directed the path of Pudumjee’s life. In 1971, he obtained a Diploma in Puppetry and Creative Drama from the Darpana School Academy. In 1972, he travelled with the Darpana puppet troupe around Europe where he was exposed to various styles from the different countries which influenced his work. Over the next few years he was part of puppet shows all across India and abroad, until he founded the Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust.

“We use both modern and traditional puppetry techniques and hope to support, develop and maintain the traditional puppetry of India while also encouraging the renewal of the arts of puppetry,” Pudumjee said.  The Trust hopes to promoting education and entertainment via the medium of puppetry and drama “Ishara has been working with marginalized groups of youth in the fields of HIV/AIDS and Drug Use in partnership with UNESCO Paris and the European Union from 2004 -2006,” he said. At the end of the project six youth were successfully trained as peer educators. “These youth will use modern puppetry techniques and skills to facilitate workshops, awareness programmes, training programmes and performances with schools, institutions and NGO’s,” Pudumjee said.