People and Puppets perform together

Making crafts and playing with puppets are often considered childish, since they are used by children to create their own worlds. But adults retain the desire to create and control even after they abandon these pastimes. It is possible that all the broken motions of historical progress—inventions, discoveries, technology—reflect that desire.

The Czech country is the Mecca for all puppetry artists. Puppet theatre is also an important identity for Czech people together with the Bohemian glass art. In such a country that has a long-age traditional culture, Noriyuki Sawa is quite famous. Noriyuki Sawa blends traditional Japanese banraku puppetry with modern Czech “Figure Theatre.” He is a contemporary puppet theatre performer who studied figure theatre at the Czech National Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and has continued to perform in collaboration with numerous leading theatres such as DRAK from his base in the Czech Republic. Bunraku is traditional Japanese puppetry.

With origins in the 17th century, in Bunraku the story is told through half-life-size puppets, each worked by three puppeteers, a shamisen (Japanese instrument) player and a narrator or chanter. Figure theatre—a more spontaneous performance—has artists interacting with their puppets. They share the stage, act together in unison to tell a story. He explains “A traditional puppeteer imparts character to his inanimate puppet, so that the puppet seems to acquire a distinct personality and act of its own will. Figure Theatre artists, on the other hand, emerge from behind their puppets to interact with them; they control the puppets and are also manipulated by the puppet-characters they have created.” For instance, in his production of “Forest,” he plays the soldier’s soul while controlling the puppets representing the soldier’s body and the white woman.

Regarding the content of the play Noriyuki says, “Shakespeare, European fairy tales, anything. But I am always trying to include the feeling of Japan, especially the Japanese fabric in the show.”

It was his first contact with the Indian audience. He felt, “I love them, because they are very happy to be in the theatre and see something. They look like enjoying the secret festival in the dark forest.” Puppet theatre usually plays for kids in Japan. But in Europe including Czech country, puppetry is one of the theatre arts and even puppets, they are scenic arts also for the adult audience.

Noriyuki Sawa signs off, “In the ancient age, puppet theatre has been developed as the religious ritual; it has been a miniature-model of the relationship between God and human beings. I would also like just to go forward being manipulated, hopefully by God, but maybe by puppets?”

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