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There might be already plenty of art and culture must-sees, but this week three international puppet acts that cannot be missed are in the city. Heard of a puppeteer-cum-actor or a puppeteer who uses her body parts as props and characters?

In this jam-packed season of art and culture events in the city, where exhibitions and performances at multiple venues are competing for your attention, very few will really be able to stand out. However, in the midst of this art and culture hullabaloo, there is something that you just should not miss.


An image of Desislava Mincheva from Chick with a Trick

For on Tuesday, for a period of three days, the Delhi-based Ishara Puppet Theatre will hold its Ishara International Puppet Theatre Festival at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA). Three award-winning puppet shows from Australia, Ireland and Italy will be staged as part of the festival. As Dadi Pudumjee, the founder of Ishara Puppet Theatre and a leading puppeteer himself, puts it, "The groups use different styles and techniques, from the conventional to using their own body to dressing up oneself as a character... All of them are storytellers using the medium in a creative way."

Oh rat!
On Tuesday, the well-known Sydney Puppet Theatre, a team comprising Sue Wallace and Steve Coupe, who specialise in creating puppetry productions for family audiences, will put together two of their most popular shows � Oh Rats! and A Package for Granny. Each will be 30 minutes long with a short break in between.
In Oh Rats! which is reportedly extremely popular with children, a magician by the name of Magica is made to train his new assistant.


A visual of A Package for Granny, by The Sydney Puppet Theatre

However, in the process, the magician's world turns upside down. Other characters include cheeky rats, a sausage circus, a duck and a magic hat that multiplies anything you put in it, as long as it is not yellow in colour. A Package for Granny, on the other hand, is based on different nursery rhymes and tells the story of a granny and her friends Green, Yellow and Turtle who are trying to retrieve the granny's lost package. According to Pudumjee, "Oh Rats! and A Package for Granny are great kids and family shows. They use various sorts of puppets -- Humanettes (a puppet-proportioned body hangs from the puppeteer's neck), gloves, rods, etc."

Gone With the Feet
However, unlike The Sydney Puppet Theatre, just one puppeteer, Laura Kibel, will perform Wednesday's one hour-long show. Kibel is, in fact, a one-woman show. For not only does she compose her music, prepare the masks, costumes and props for her shows, she also uses her various body parts as puppets. Kibel, an ambidextrous puppeteer, uses her hands, feet, knees and stomach as characters and props in her play. While no spoken words will be used in Gone With the Feet, it will use plenty of music. Kibel is known to be particularly great with her feet, using them to create continually changing faces.

Chick with a trick
According to Pudumjee, the last show is perhaps the funniest. Based on fairytales, the show Chick with a Trick combines puppetry, dance and theatre. Here, Desislava Mincheva, a Bulgarian solo object theatre artist will be dressed as a hen. She will not just be the protagonist of this act, she will also use different puppets to push the story forward. Not only is this act unusual, but so is the story. Here, the play begins with the hen pulling out a chocolate toffee from the nest she has been roosting on, and asking, "I laid a chocolate bonbon?"
The misadventures continue as she tries to find out if the world will be 'flooded with sugar candy and bonbons if I keep hatching sweets like this.' Eventually, however, inspired by a sunny day and the children around, she convinces herself that there is nothing wrong in doing something unusual if it brings joy to others.

At: 6.30 pm, February 14, 15 and 16, NCPA, Nariman Point
Call: 66223737

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