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Karnataka Puppet Show troupe to perform in Switzerland
Shekar Ajekar

Sri Ramanjaneya Togalu Gombe Mela ® Bellary-583 102, Karnataka-India a puppet show trope has been invited to perform in
Museum Rietberg Gablerstrasse 15, CH 8002, Zurich, Switzerland (“MUSEUM RIETBERG .
Mrs. Amritha Lahari, Chennai. Will be the Coordinator of the Zurich Programme to be performed this month there.
SA Krishnaiah, Chief Folklorist, RRC. MGM College,
Udupi, Karnataka, Udupi is Executive Director for the Shows there.

MUSEUM RIETBERG is sponsoring a programs of puppetry during its Ramayanam exhibition in Zurich. Programs will take place everyday at two times daily between 29 June and 6 July 2008 in Museum Rietberg, Zurich.
Rama is chosen as husband 30-45' (Sita Swyamvara),
Kidnapping of Sita 30-45' (Sita’s abduction),
Mahathma Gandhi Episode (Bapu Katha) are the three episodes choosen by the troupe under the mastership of Karnataka’s Top puppet artist Mr. Belegallu Veeranna.
Dr. Veerendra Hegde of Dharmastala had given financial support for the troup for preparation of this tour.

Mr. Belagallu Veeranna (Founder Director)
(Leading Singer, Harmonium-keyboard-player)
Prof. S.A. Krishnaiah, Chief Researcher)
( Direction & Choreography/ artist)
Mrs Mahalingamma, (Puppeteer/artist, Singer)
Mr. B.V.Mallikarjuna Puppeteer/artist, Singer)
Mr. B.V.Hanumantha Puppeteer/artist, Percussionist
Mr. B.K. Mahesha Puppeteer/artist
Mr. B.V. Prakash Puppeteer/artist/singer
Mr. Eriswamy Puppeteer/artist/singer
Mr.K.Ningappa Puppeteer/artist
Amrita Lahiri Program Co-ordinator-Chennai

Gandhiji’s Freedom Struggle
‘Gandhiji’ Father of the Nation (India) episode highlights on Gandhiji’s philosophy, non-violence, Gandhian thoughts, spiritual eminence. The Gandhi story presented in the shadow theatrical form, it could adequately excite new ideas in children and make a lasting impression. Through this leather puppets medium it is possible to give the message of National Integration and to spread the Gandhian message.

Sri Ramanjaneya Leather Puppet Group of Bellary has brought to the stage the theme of Gandhiji’s biography in the medium of puppet theatre. For the first time a historical theme was handled by folk artistes. The Indian Freedom Struggle, under the leadership of Gandhiji, inspired the folk artistes to present the important stages of Gandhian leadership in liberating oppressed people. It is an operatic play giving the message of commitment to truth, non-violence, peace and harmony. Important stages in Gandhiji’s life like his involvement in the fight for political rights by the Indians in South Africa, his arrival on the Indian scene and his acceptance of the leadership of the Indian Freedom Movement, Champaran, Indigo Movement, Protest against Rowlett Act, Jalianwala Incident etc. Gandhiji’s commitment to eradication of untouchabilty, promotion of village industries, indigenousness, incidents like non Cooperation, Salt Satyagraha, Quit India etc are presented in the play. The play lasts from half an hour to one hour.

This new venture in the medium of shadow puppetry is aimed at projecting the facets of Gandhij’s epic struggle particularly, in removing social inequalities, promoting communal harmony, and achieving the freedom of man. Illustration have been drawn from a few episodes of his life in South Africa and India where he demonstrated the discriminatory element untouchable and the brute force of injustice of all kinds. The play transmits the message of SATYA and AHIMSA which Gandhiji the Father of the Indian Nation left for us : ‘Eswar Alla Teere Naam Sabuko sanmati thee Bhagavaan’.

Besides this symbolic expression introduced using Gandhijis’ personal belongings, reading glasses, chappals, the three monkey motifs and utensils shadow effectively used. Background music introduced with popular patriotic tunes as such ’vaishnava janato..’ ‘Raghupati raaghava raajaraam..’’saare jahaase acca..’’saabaramatika santa.’ with all these in dim light the show produces a good impact on the viewers as a strong and powerful medium the hands of Veeranna and his family members.

Director and Leader: Belagallu Veeranna
Sriramanjaneya Togalugombe Mela Trust ®-Bellary-Karnataka-India
Play Direction & Choreography: S.A.Krishnaiah
Story/script: Sri Raghavendra Rao-Bellary
Music by: Belagallu Veeranna and troupe

Shadow Puppeteers Play of Karnataka Schedule

28-June-2008 Saturday Opening short Performance at 5-45 p.m., 6.15 pm and 6.45 pm

29-June-2008 Sunday Performance 12 (A) and 5 pm (B)

30-June 2008 No activities planed;

01-July-2008 Tuesday
Performance 12 (A) and 3 p.m. evening performance SLSA (time not
2-July-2008 Wednesday Performance 12 (A) and 5 pm (B)
3-July 2008 Thursday Performance 12 (A) and 5 pm (B)
4-July-2008 Friday Performance 12 (A) and 5 pm (B) 6-45 program at school

5-July-2008 Saturday 10 am family workshop with Barbara, performance 1pm (A) and 3 pm (B)
6-July 2008 Sunday Performance 12 (Gandhi story) and 3 pm (G)
7-July-2008 Monday Checkout flight back to India

S.A Krishnayya’s comment on Puppet Art Form

A unique theatre form from South India is the Shadow Puppet Show which in the local Kannada dialect is known as “Togalu Gombeyata.” But it is not three-dimensional leather-puppets that make their appearance on the stage, but colourful figures which are marked on leather sheets made transparent in an age-old traditional technique making use of natural colours drawn from plants or stones. The leather sheets are cut as per the shape and size of the figures drawn on them and mounted on bamboo sticks for support. The puppeteer sits behind the curtain and manipulates the figures in such a way that a light mounted on the other side casts the shadow of the figures on the curtain and the transparent coloured figures appear like dressed actors on the screen. The art can be traced back to thousands of years ago, and it is remarkable that it has remained as a living tradition in many states of South India. Excepting in the State of Kerala in the Southern tip and Orissa bordering on North India shadow puppet shows are popular in the whole South Indian peninsula. Besides the other theatre forms like drama and Yakshagana (Bayalata- Field-drama) the puppet shows are very popular among the people. It should of course be admitted that of late with the stiff competition coming from modern entertainment media like the cinema and the television folk theatre forms like puppet plays are being increasingly neglected.
Artists’ Troupe.
As it is common in many other parts of India, the puppet shows are presented by artistes who belong to a particular caste, which is however not highly looked upon by the main-stream society. This group of artistes is known by different names like Killekyatha, Sillekyatha, Katubukyatha etc. Originally they were perhaps hunters as the material which they use for making the puppets is obtained from the hide of deer or goat (in modern times). They could also have been nomadic as a result.
Preparation of the Puppets
The creative genius of these artistes is to be seen not only in their stagecraft, but also in the way they prepare the puppets. The art of obtaining transparent sheets from the hide of deer or goats is a secret known only to them. The figures are marked on the leather with pointed iron needles. The edges of the figures so drawn are coloured black and thus highlighted. The inner parts are filled with various colours as per the nature of the character depicted in the figure and the colours are obtained from natural sources like plants or stones. Beautiful designs are drawn to show ornaments or weapons. Only very senior and experienced artistes can have mastered this art of preparing the puppets. The figures are somewhat similar to the figures of Lepakshi or Vijayanagara style of drawing.In this show, which can be called the first ever technique of slide-projection, the story is narrated in the form of songs rendered by singer-members of the troupe and narration by the main artiste. The songs are accompanied by Harmonium key board music and percussion. The instruments are played mostly by the members of the family of the main

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