Sock the audience

This weekend, watch a pair of 20-somethings bring alive socks with faces from a Star Wars-inspired Japanese tale

Living in present-day Japan, Sock-Jong-Un is the son of an extremist dictator, Sock-Jung-II; he is undergoing an identity crisis, post the demise of his father. He ropes in a team of scientists and locks them in a dungeon until they discover the formula of time travel. Then, he goes back in time to feudal Japan to learn the art of Bushido, or the way of samurai life and also learns to deal with the struggles of growing up, heartbreak and murdering children in cold blood.

Dictator Sock-Jung-II
Dictator Sock-Jung-II

Sounds like a coming-of-age plot from an oriental paperback, right? Now, imagine the character as a sock puppet with two, orange plastic balls for eyes, mouthing puns like, ‘We must treasure our ancestors for the future to be sock-cessfull’ or ‘You have disrespected my honour, now I must de-feet you.’

If it’s piqued you sufficiently, book a seat for Cold Feet: A Japanese Sock-urai Cultural Unravelling Sock Puppet Story, scheduled at The Hive, this Saturday as part of its Community Festival. The puppet show has been directed, produced, written and acted by 22-year-old media professional Ashwin Choithramani and 21-year-old psychology student, Raihaan Attawala.

A frame from a traditional Japanese puppetry performance
A frame from a traditional Japanese puppetry performance

Socks and puppets
"The story is about a father-son relationship adapted from Star Wars, which had the most dramatic cinematic representation of the same. Sock-Jung-Un is a mirror image of Luke Skywalker. Samurais are the real-world interpretation of the idea of a Jedi and that’s where the Japan context kicks in," shares Choithramani. Attawala adds, "We chose Japan because it’s a cool place with an interesting culture. However, the plot has almost nothing to do with Japan. It has samurais but it might as well have been in Greenland."

Ashwin Choithramani
Ashwin Choithramani

The duo will present the 30-minute act, playing roles of five to six central characters, using voice modulation techniques. "Being clear and audible is as important as being funny or having a good script. We’ve used a special voice for each character and that also helps give a certain life to it," informs Attawala, who along with Choithramani, presented an American Italian Gangster puppet story, a couple of months ago. "One night, I was watching an indie film that featured a mention of socks; so the next day, I connected with Raihaan (a school friend) and told him we should engineer a sock puppet movement in the country. Puppetry and sock puppet making are a dying art form. I have not heard of anyone else doing stage performances with sock puppets apart from us," recalls Choithramani, who saw his first sock puppet show at a play school in Panama, where he was brought up before shifting to the city, nine years ago.

Raihaan Attawala
Raihaan Attawala

Learn the art
The duo looked up YouTube for references on how to make sock puppets and later, went the DIY way. "I’m just happy we don't have to make our own socks," chuckles Attawala, and adds, "If people wear more socks, they will grow to love them as I did. They will also want to put their socks on display through artistic performances. We also need more hand socks (not gloves). Little do we know, sometimes a sock with a face can be your best friend."

On: March 5, 8 pm
At: The Hive, 50-A Huma Mansion, opposite Ahmed Bakery, Chuim Village Road, Khar (W).
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Did you know?

Puppet theatre reached its height in Japan in the 18th century with the plays of Chikamatsu Monzaemon. Later, it declined due to the lack of writing talent



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