2016 was a special year for us. We turned 18 and we got our own new space to further explore our puppetry encounters. Our space is at the Southern border of Delhi, 12 kilmoeters from the city centre. The population around is dense and semi urban.
These are the programs the space is currently supporting or planning to support
Mentorship Program - In December 2017 we kick start our artists mentorship program with the mentoring of young directors from across India by the Director of Helios Theatre in Hamm, Germany, Barbara Kolling. Barbara will mentor 5 young Indian directors in creating 5 new performances using material only.
Support to new puppeteers - Project Internships- We have started by giving small seed grants to new puppet performances and providing our space to puppeteers who need a rehearsal space. We also mentor performances by first time puppeteers by providing directorial and dramaturgical inputs. This is done under our Internship Program. Most applicants are students from Drama schools, designers and performers- Since 2009 we have received 20 interns.
Shadow Internships - Specially created for those who wish to learn puppet theatre. In the absence of a puppet school in India this program helps young puppeteers, directors and arts managers to watch puppeteers at work, follow the creation of a production, a tour or the day to day running of a company. We have received over 60 Indian and International Interns for this program so far.
School Program - On special days our space turns into a Museum cum theater for children. Children come into our space to watch a puppet show, make puppets with the company members and then to walk through a sensorial exhibition called the Magic Cupboard. This is a Cupboard with 20 drawers, doors, sliders, each of which offers a special sensorial experience. Children touch, smell and taste the cupboards, find a miniature snoring man in a miniature drawer in a miniature bedroom, can peep through key holes to find stories, become light designers in a miniature theatre. One of the doors leads into a labyrinth full of puppets and leads out onto a walk where their bare feet experience different textures. This year we hope to invite different artists to design the cupboards to make it a constantly changing experience for children. This program hopes to run at least 4 times a month!
Puppets for teachers - For 18 years we have tried to convince teachers to use puppets in the classroom to teach subjects, not only as entertainment. We have an annual seminar for teachers where they explore hands on techniques of using puppets in the class. Each one of them receives a Do-it-yourself kit which includes history lessons with shadow puppets, storytelling with paper.
Community puppet program - Since 2016 we began a puppet program for our neighbourhood. We are located on the fringes of Delhi where we have a mix of the urban poor, migrant labour, a large part of the cities labour force.
- The Sunday Puppets Club - This is a 2 hour children’s program by artists at our studio for children of the neighbourhood. Here they learn to make puppets, tell stories, to paint, sculpt and move. They also have a small library of books and now we are building our animation library.
- The window to puppet theatre - Our rehearsal room window overlooks the alleyway or thoroughfare used by the entire community. When we are rehearsing we leave the window open and often people stop to watch. We liked this curiosity very much and so we are now building a peep show in our window. People can actually peep in and see puppets, shadows, miniatures or something else.
- My Gulli - Gulli is a Hindi word which means an alleyway. Our alleyway has been a drug users’ haven for a long time. We are planning to reclaim it by painting a community mural, together with the children so that the wall belongs to the children and the entire community. The peep show window is in this wall.