BANGALORE: Schools and other teaching institutions are going that extra mile in a constant effort to make education relevant and interactive. The latest to catch the fancy of international schools is theatre and puppetry.
In a recent production, titled after A K Ramanujan’s essay on ‘The Flowering Tree’, based on a folk tale in Karnataka, minds from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, and Mallya Aditi International School came together to brainstorm the use of shadow puppetry in education.
Arzu Mistry and her team from Srishti asked themselves some questions in order to engage with the concept. “How does a folk tale from Karnataka make contemporary sense to students of class 8 in an international school? How does traditional shadow puppet theatre come together with LED textiles that respond to sensory provocation,” were some questions.
“This was part of a venture called Project Vision that we were working at Srishti. We were all artists here and we were trying to address innovative ways to reach out to students,” said Arzu Mistry. They selected a group of 30 class eight students from Mallya Aditi International School. They choose A K Ramanujan’s essay on The Flowering Tree as a starting point. Together, they began to deconstruct the story with the help of the essay and in the process, the students led the course of discussion.
The students were introduced to hands-on experiential activities such as spectograms, chalk talk, deconstructing popular love songs, making up chants about men and women, and improvised theatre among other things. The story was broken down into parts and the children generated connections and parallels to real lives from their experience.
“Since the original story was narrated through puppet theatre, we introduced the students to the form,” said Arzu. It introduced them to the layered meanings and together the team climbed the learning curve. “We used puppets to bring out social issues such as the pressure students face from parents, family and peers,” she added. All pieces were connected and the final product was a multi-dimensional production that involved shadow puppets, devised theatre form and interactive textiles. “This was an innovative way to reach out to the students,” said Arzu.