Dadi Pudumjee Puppetry Workshop organised at Amity International School Noida

Under the aegis of SPICMACAY, Amity International School, Noida held a four day puppetry workshop conducted by the avant-grande artist, Sh. Dadi Pudumjee, the pioneer of creative puppetry in India, form 1st to 5th November 2008 for 22 select children from Classes 7 & 8 and four teachers (Sarita Sekri, Rita Joshi, Madhu Manglik and Usha Verma).

Known for his highly innovative and creative techniques, Sh Dadi Pudumjee has even used shoes for his original characters. His Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust involves dancers, actors, objects as the performances range from those based on poetry to visual arts.

Day 1 covered tremendous ground and commenced with an interactive PowerPoint presentation educating the participants about the history of Indian puppetry dating back to 5th century BC when traditional puppetry was based on religious and historical themes, such as their portrayals developed in South India with shadow puppets performing stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Besides dealing with religious themes, Indian puppetry also conveyed useful messages from the Panchatantra and other mythological and historical epics. Other numerous types of puppets, including the sock puppets, finger puppets, hand puppets, string puppets and stick puppets were also showcased.

Day 2, had the participants using "the hands-on" approach when they started the slow and delicate process of crafting their own puppets. Plastic balls and bottles were used for heads. Next, a stick was shouldered to hold the head in place. Then came the process of using brown paper, soaked in fevicol and water mixture to stick a layer on the puppet(similar to building up a layer like in paper-mache). This was left to dry out in the sun.

Day 3 had the participants constructing the parts of the face and building up features using the same paper and fevicol mixture.

Day 4 kick-started with readying the puppets as the children put up a special show for Principal, Mrs. Mohina Dar. In reality, it was for each other. They had succeeded in modernizing the art of puppetry, while borrowing from traditional puppet theatre. They used this special technique as a "medium in itself", covering a wide range of issues and revealing their intrinsic feelings about issues like peer pressure, the pressure to perform, consumerism, pressures from teachers and parents, etc.

The experience went a long way in coming out of one''s shell, speaking one''s mind, intermingling, working in a team, cooperating and creating. It was also a process of healing and coming to "terms" with life''s complexities. It was a perfect medium for communication and entertainment all because of the crystallization of the imagination and mind of the puppeteer.

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