Students in Dubai bring puppets to life

Students in Dubai bring puppets to life
102 Students of GEMS Modern Academy performs unique production, Rihlat Al Hayat - The Journey of Life in collaboration with Padmashree Dadi Pudumjee at GEMS Modern Academy auditorium.

Dubai - 102 Gems students showcase puppet show on how UAE evolved.



by

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Thu 21 Jan 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 22 Jan 2016, 12:44 PM

Leading Indian puppeteer and founder of the Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust Padmashree awardee Dadi Padumjee broke the traditional norms of puppeteering several years ago. And as per their maiden performance in Dubai, which took place at the Dubai Gems Modern Academy on Thursday, puppets seem to have outgrown their material concerns.
They are no longer limited to rod- and string-manipulated dolls, but are almost life-like. For a first time viewer of the show, it is evident that puppeteering is now not just about animation and toys, but it is a process where the puppeteer becomes the character he or she is playing.
In what can only be called a pioneering step of sorts, 102 students of The GEMS Modern Academy showcased the unique production, 'Rihlat Al Hayat - The Journey of Life' in collaboration with Padmashree Dadi Padumjee and Ishara Theatre Trust. After the two shows on Thursday, which was a box office hit, the second set of shows will be held on Monday on the school premises.
Dadi Padumjee has extensive experience of working with schoolchildren. He is the President of Union Internationale de la Marionnette - International Puppetry Association and a former member of the General Council of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.
As the narrator recites immortal wisdom from the poetry by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, from his book 'Flashes of Thought'; Jalaluddin Rumi; Khalil Gibran and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the viewer is thrust into the magical journey of life.
"The play is essentially the story of how the UAE evolved to become the metropolis it is today. From its humble beginnings of pearl diving and fishing, Dubai especially has grown to become the bustling, busy city that it is today. Simultaneously, the story line also travels through the subconscious of a human being in the different stages of his life," said one of the narrators and Grade 11 student of Modern Academy Anjalie Thomas.
After the first show, Khaleej Times caught up with Padumjee, and his team of merry puppeteers from the Ishara Trust, and lead performers and teachers from the Modern Academy to catch a glimpse into what went into the production. Padumjee stated that not a single child was auditioned for any of the roles. "We called interested participants and each and every one of the students were trained to perform their roles," said Padumjee.
From crafting the larger than life props themselves, weaving a story line and perfecting intricate dance moves, the children have participated in a workshop organised by the Ishara Trust and Padumjee for over two months to bring the spectacular performance to life.
'Special' angle to the show
The most heart-warming part of the production was the inclusion of two special needs students of the school, who also made two of the most important performers in the play.
Principal of the school Nargish Khambatta stated that she'd been very keen to bring the production to Dubai ever since she saw one of Padumjee's earlier productions at the Welham Girls' School in Dehradun, India. "Even after we'd gotten in touch with Padumjee, it took us about 6-8 months to finally get him to Dubai. In May, Dadi organised a puppeteering workshop for the students here. We decided then that we would have this production," said Khambatta.
Speaking about the formation of the script of the play, Padumjee said that it all began with an idea. "We had a simple idea on how the play would look and we began working together with the children and the teachers. The script developed over time and the children came down during the winter break to practice and develop the play." All materials and puppets used in the play were hand-made by the students. "Students and teachers sat together to create the puppets with their own hands.
Dance and music
Master Craftsman and Puppeteer from Ishara Trust Mohammed Shameed said: "I see that the children here have a hunger to learn and want to try new and different things. In the beginning, we didn't think they could use string puppets because it is a bit of a challenge for new users, but we pushed the children and it was delightful to see them perform."
Choreographer Avinash Kumar said that the students were able to grasp things very fast. "We used elements of Kathak, contemporary and ballet in the production. Most of the children could grasp it instantly," he said. Another student performer and dancer Akshay Pansare said: "I've done five productions with the school as a sounds and IT technician and I finally got the chance to go on stage. It's been amazing."
Sameer Singh Pujii, a puppeteer and IT technician said: "One of my biggest takeaways from the show is team-work. It's amazing how we came together as a family to create this master piece."
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

102 Students of GEMS Modern Academy performs unique production, Rihlat Al Hayat – The Journey of Life in collaboration with Padmashree Dadi Pudumjee at GEMS Modern Academy auditorium.
102 Students of GEMS Modern Academy performs unique production, Rihlat Al Hayat – The Journey of Life in collaboration with Padmashree Dadi Pudumjee at GEMS Modern Academy auditorium.
102 Students of GEMS Modern Academy performs unique production, Rihlat Al Hayat – The Journey of Life in collaboration with Padmashree Dadi Pudumjee at GEMS Modern Academy auditorium.
102 Students of GEMS Modern Academy performs unique production, Rihlat Al Hayat – The Journey of Life in collaboration with Padmashree Dadi Pudumjee at GEMS Modern Academy auditorium.
102 Students of GEMS Modern Academy performs unique production, Rihlat Al Hayat – The Journey of Life in collaboration with Padmashree Dadi Pudumjee at GEMS Modern Academy auditorium.
102 Students of GEMS Modern Academy performs unique production, Rihlat Al Hayat – The Journey of Life in collaboration with Padmashree Dadi Pudumjee at GEMS Modern Academy auditorium.

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