An Overview
Multiple functions of Indian Puppetry
Skilled Craft of Indian Puppetry
Inanimate to Animate in Indian Puppetry

Stage Set
Puppet stage is divided into two parts - first where puppets acts and second where manipulators stand. Again for the rod, gloves and shadow puppets, puppeteers manipulate overhead by standing or sitting. For marionette, puppeteers manipulate from top to below. Traditional stages are simple and can be dismantled quickly. They use indigenous materials and make their own stage. Some traditional string and shadow puppet-groups have their own tents, take them on truck to different fairgrounds and perform ticketed shows. Traditional puppet-groups use thick clothes, preferably black for their stage and always hang a banner containing group name and address. Traditional glove puppeteers perform in the open and do not need any stage. Traditional rod puppeteers use painted curtains and wings. String and rod puppeteers use props like trees, chariot and throne. Shadow puppeteers use scenes and props made by leather and attach them on the screen by thorns. Painted curtains and wings are used as a scene.
Traditional puppeteers used oil lamps, earthen lamps or lanterns earlier, but now they use electric light. Shadow puppeteers of Kerala still use oil lamps, to retain the unique effect of light-and-shade in their performance. Glove puppeteers generally perform in the daytime in open
  space and do not need any illumination. Pava Koothu puppeteers, however, perform sitting in the open before a brass oil lamp. Rod and string puppet-groups use spotlights and some colour effects (with gelatine paper) to create river, sunrise, storm, etc. Most groups are too poor to give sophisticated effects. In Assam, string puppeteers use slide projector, as this is used in their folk theatre (Vramyaman Natak). Shadow puppeteers now use electric lamps behind the shadow curtain for their show.

Shadow lighting
Music is very important in traditional puppet show. Even a single glove puppeteer sings when he manipulates his puppets, or, he plays percussion with one hand and manipulates puppets with the other. Other forms of puppet groups have an ensemble of musicians who provide music for the play. Rod puppet groups have 4 to 5 musicians with separate singers. String puppet groups of West Bengal have a main singer, composing music for all the plays and paid a high amount. Other string puppet groups have at least one singer and one instrument player. In Kathputli of Rajasthan, music plays a vital role, as the singer uses the sound effects for entertainment.
In shadow groups, the leader sings first and then other puppeteers join in chorus. Music is often taken from the regional folk theatre, based on ragas and folk tunes. String and rod puppeteers of West Bengal use popular songs from Jatra and films. As they go to perform in Bihar, they use local Bhojpuri songs for the audience there. Now women sing for female characters. Musicians provide effect music, particularly during war scenes. Dances are both important and popular in traditional puppet plays. Every form of puppetry has dancer puppets and uses rhythmic songs for them. Anarkali, the Kathputli dancer puppet, is famous all over the world. Shadow puppet dancers perform in their traditional style.

Musicians in puppet show

Traditional puppet shows are always with live music and dialogue. Nowadays they use microphones to reach bigger audience. Some string puppeteers use recorded audiocassettes available in the market. These groups neither have money to pay musicians nor can they afford recording for the play.

All traditional puppeteers are always competing against new technology and new media. People abroad fancy traditional shows, but, in India, urban people are keen on modern shows. So traditional puppeteers are trying to imitate TV or cinema with their limited resources. Puppeteers who live in the city often get chance to go abroad but puppeteers in villages live in poor condition, with many leaving their profession!

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