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Learn with puppets

Puppets can be used as an education tool and that is the focus of puppeteer Madhavi Latha's work.

IN A quiet corner of Dakshinachitra at the Festival of Puppetry and Animation, a workshop attracted attention. It revealed yet another role of puppetry in a contemporary context. Held by G. Madhavi Latha of the Puppetry Resource Centre, Hyderabad, the workshop focussed on the use of puppets for educational purposes.

"We are working on some exciting concepts not just for children in mainstream schools but also mentally challenged ones,'' said Latha. "We want to promote puppetry as an education tool. Puppetry is a learning experience. It involves the craft of painting, sculpture, carving and moulding. And you can sing dance and mime with the puppet as well as learn the art of story telling."

The Puppetry Resource Centre, an NGO that is part of the Andhra Mahila Sabha's Literary Wing, has worked towards spreading adult literacy in Hyderabad, and in the slums to create awareness on hygiene. The Puppet Resource Centre's `Do it yourself' kit, a great hit at Dakshinachitra, is already part of the curriculum in many Hyderabad schools.

At the demonstration, Latha opened a handy yet capacious black cloth bag, which doubled as a portable screen. Inside it was a kit of five puppets.The demonstration included the making of five glove puppets by teachers and children using waste materials such as cloth, paint boxes, string, paper, needle and thread.

Once the `dramatis personae' take shape, all one has to do is to unfold the screen, go behind it and the `sutradar' can begin telling his story. A cassette that is part of the kit plays some catchy tunes in English and Telugu while the stories are mostly drawn from the Panchatantra.

The puppets created by the Puppetry Resource Centre include soft rabbit and tortoise glove puppets for the mentally challenged. Latha has also written on puppetry.

Interested Chennai schools may contact G. Madhavi Latha at Puppet Resource Centre, Literacy House, Andhra Mahila Sabha, O.U. Road, Hyderabad 500007.

PUSHPA CHARI

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