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Puppets are magical creatures, even when they lie in storage in the workshops of well-known puppeteers like Dadi Pudumjee and Anurupa Roy. Roy is letting loose one such puppet in Bengaluru—a baby dinosaur that is the star of Dinosaur!, a production by the Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust.

Dinosaur! will be staged as part of the annual AHA! International Theatre Festival for Children, which is on till 19 July at the Ranga Shankara theatre facility. This year’s line-up includes troupes from Italy, Sri Lanka and South Korea, as well as India. “The groups were selected as they went with the theme of the festival... Theatre of Masks and Puppetry," says S. Surendranath, artistic director, Ranga Shankara.

Roy, director of Dinosaur! and founder of Katkatha, says the production was conceived during the festival last year, but not staged. It’s very different today. For one, the team has scaled down the size of the puppet from 20ft to 6ft for practical reasons—it’s hard to travel with a puppet that large. The story, too, has changed with the dimensions of the dinosaur.

Dinosaur! is a play about a baby dinosaur who gets separated from its mother and has many adventures during its journey to find its family. The show uses human-size puppets, shadows and cut-outs to tell the story.

Roy says this is the first time the Katkatha team is working with animal-body extensions for a show to make the performance more dynamic. This means that the puppet is not manipulated from the outside, but is worn by the puppeteer. “These are more physically demanding for the puppeteer," she says. The puppets are made of Styrofoam or thermocol and papier mâché, while the mobile components, such as tails and claws, are made of plastic foam.

This is only Katkatha’s second show for children since 2008, says Roy, because such shows need a lot of work. “They are the hardest category to please—the younger you go, the tougher your audience gets."

Roy says that while a child’s imagination may be peopled with polished, 3D animated dinosaurs today, the Katkatha production is not competing on that front. “We are trying to create an impression of a dinosaur. The children can see the puppeteer. We don’t believe that in order to create magic for a child, we must hide the puppeteer and not reveal how it’s being done...the most mundane things can be very magical for a child."

Dinosaur! will be staged on 17 July, 7.30pm, at Ranga Shankara, 36/2, 8th Cross Road, JP Nagar, 2nd Phase. Tickets, 200, available on www.indianstage.in and in.bookmyshow.com

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