|It was a day
for kids at The Other Festival. The denomination barrier was dissolved
and the children were allowed to sit wherever they wanted to.
If there is
one thing that can be said with absolute certainty, it is that the children,
the puppets, and the voices from behind the screen hit it off very well
right from the start. Jean-Luc Penso and Theatre du Petit Miroir’s delightful
shadow puppetry presentation of “A Fox Story” kept all the kids – actual
and grown-up – glued to their seats. “A Fox Story” is an enchanting fable
that occupies a definite place in the French cultural memory. Momentarily
resembling our fox from the Panchatantra, who falls into a dye vat and
beguiles his enemies, the fox in the French fable proves much smarter and
cunning. He has his way till the end.
and his friends, Eric and Fabrice, had the entire audience roaring in laughter
at the totally unanticipated inclusion of witty repartee in Tamil. The
chief offended party in the story is the fox’s uncle who falls prey to
all his tricks and manipulations. Even the rooster that announces daybreak
at the beginning of the story is cleverer. Though not greatly different
from our indigenous shadow puppetry, the colours and costumes of the puppets
had an altogether different charm and appeal. It was later explained that
the costumes represented different periods of French history.
the grain of the characteristic moral nature of fables, this one speaks
about the cunning and malevolence of a fox who gets rewarded with lordship
at the end. Though the expectation that the guilty would be punished was
thwarted, I am sure none of the children in the audience decided to make
a role model out of him. In fact, it was only the grown-ups in the audience
who were slightly discomfited by the apparent amorality of the play. Some
of them wondered if the artistes could put this art to better use by “addressing
important issues”! Some people are not happy until an art form wears
its social affiliations on its sleeve. Are they?
however, was the post-performance session when the artistes invited the
kids backstage to see how the puppets moved. It will not be too audacious
to say that, unlike many of the elders, the children were more concerned
about the art itself - the technique, the lighting, the colours, etc.
Vasudevan is a Bharatanatyam dancer based in Chennai.