Mumbai: Object theater festival to present plays and workshops
AFTER THE success of Fairytales Retold, a virtual object theater festival held in November 2020, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) approached Tram Arts Trust to organize an international festival showcasing this art of unique performance, an emanation of the puppet. On Thursday, the art trust, in collaboration with the CSMVS Children’s Museum, launches Thing-A-Magic, a four-day international object theater festival with six plays, workshops and lectures.
The art trust team that organized the festival approached international object theater companies and artists with whom they have collaborated in the past or with whom they are familiar. The team researched object plays as well as those that combine this art form with others. The conditions for selecting the pieces were that they be suitable for the family audience, in addition to being suitable for digital media. “The selection was made keeping in mind the desire to give the audience an idea of the varied possibilities and diversities of object theater,” says Choiti Ghosh, founder of Tram Arts Trust.
Ghosh says, “Object theater is a new art form in general. It is said to have branched out in 1980 with stories in the fields of puppetry, theater, fine arts, visual arts, animation, consumer culture and more. With roots in Europe, he’s the new cool kid on the block. I guess 50 years can be considered new given that puppetry is an art form almost 4000 years old.
Planned to be performed during the festival, Plastic Heroes is a play by Ariel Doron made entirely of “ready-to-use” children’s toys, mainly those of soldiers, and incorporates iPads, iPhones and videos. The Bologna-based Baracc-a’s Frames explores how our memories are made of windows, fragments of stories we have listened to, images we have seen and emotions we have felt since we were young. Rome-based Unter-Wasser’s Boxes is a show made up of a number of interactive installations while Hunt, a play by Bengaluru-based Sannidhi Surop, challenges the tropes of the ‘big bad wolf’. The other two plays are Smooth Life by Dafa Puppet Theater, a documentary-style performance about a Palestinian raised in a refugee camp, and Gerda’s Room at Osobnyak Theater.
Describing the festival as “a sort of object theater menu card,” Ghosh says, “While some of the performances are purely based on object theater, as the festival progresses we see this. form of theater combine with puppets, storytelling and various other genres. The styles of the six pieces are as varied and distinct as the artists themselves.
Sunday at 11:30 am, the founder of the Brussels-based Gare Centrale Agnès Limbos will give a conference entitled “They are not accessories”. Luiz André Cherubini and Sandra Vargas – co-founders of Grupo Sobrevento, a Brazilian theater company dedicated to puppetry – will lead a workshop on Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.