Anurupa Roy
Anurupa Roy is a puppeteer, puppet designer and director of the puppet theatre. Roy views puppetry as not "manipulating dolls with strings" but as an amalgam of the plastic and performing arts where sculptures, masks, figures, materials, found objects and narratives come together with music, movement, physicality and theatre. She has directed over 15 shows for children and adults ranging from the Ramayana and Mahabharata to Shakespearean comedy to the Humayun-nama. She will be in Mumbai from 3rd October to 8th October to conduct a workshop on the principles of Bunraku puppet technique, which is a form of traditional Japanese puppet theatre.

 By Sananda Mukhopadhyaya

Sananda Mukhopadhyaya (SM): What drew you to Puppetry? What was your training like?

Anurupa Roy (AR): I started playing with puppets at age 9. It must have been the license to say and do anything through the puppet that drew me first. It’s what keeps me here as well!

SM: Tell us about your group Katkatha, and its journey thus far.

AR: Katkatha started as a group in 1998, then we registered as a trust in 2006 in September, thus this month we turn 10!! It has been a wonderful journey and over a 100 people which includes puppeteers, artist collaborators, interns, students of puppetry, volunteers and friends have contributed actively to make the Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust.

SM: Which stories interest you?

AR: People interest me. And stories people have told and retold through the ages over and over again adding a little something of their own with each telling. That interests me the most.

SM: What does it mean to be a contemporary Puppeteer in India in the context of the country’s traditional forms of Puppetry?

AR: Each has a place and context. The coming together of the two to dialogue with each other is the need of the hour, for me.

SM: How do you think Puppetry has fared in India versus other forms of performance?

AR: Puppetry has survived for over 3000 years. It has coexisted and crossbred with hundreds of other arts and will continue to do so. After all this form is an amalgam of the performing and plastic arts. I don't think it is versus other arts. It embodies many arts.

SM: Name your favourite three Puppeteers. Why do you think their work is special?

AR: Phillips Gently , Neville Tranter and Royale Deluxe are my favorite. They turned puppets into an art of very powerful yet subtle exploration of human psychology. Their shows are like inner journeys that move one deeply.

SM: Which are the three most essential skills a Puppeteer must possess?

AR: The ability to observe small details, to love and connect to materials, to imagine possibilities where there is very little.

SM: If you were to describe the art of Puppetry, what would you say?

AR: Its the art of animating the inanimate in real time and space.

*Sananda Mukhopadhyaya is a theatre practitioner and educator from Mumbai. She has been working in professional theatre in the capacity of a lighting technician and director for past 10 years. She runs Extensions Arts, a multi arts collaborative platform that strives to create arts based engagements that nurture silence, observation and experience based learning.

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