On 14th December 2020, Sarmaya Arts Foundation conducted a Virtual Workshop on the shadow puppetry tradition of Tholu Bommalaata for Neev Academy in Bangalore. The workshop was held via zoom for a small group of drama students from the 9th grade. The students were well versed with theatre concepts and styles from around the world. Some members of this informed and enthusiastic group had been pursuing drama since the age of 7 or 8.
Given their predisposition to the topic, the workshop was designed to discuss origins of the artform, as well as complex ideas around oral narratives, politics exhibited by the jester puppets, and patronage. It was an interactive session where students were encouraged to ask questions as well as share their experiences. The kids were also engaged in a short activity where they had to develop their own court jester characters. This involved making decisions on how the jester puppet would look, as well as its age, gender, characteristics and the socio-political message it would deliver on stage.
The workshop, based on puppets from the Sarmaya collection, was held by Kuhu Kopariha, Curatorial Associate, Komal Chitnis, Head of Collections, and Avehi Menon, Archive Director.