Anurupa Roy is a puppeteer, puppetry director and the Founder and Managing Trustee of The Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust, a puppet theatre group based in Delhi, India since 1998. Roy has directed performances for Katkatha, TIE Company National School of Drama, Jana Natya Manch. She is a recipient of the Ustad Bismilla Khan Yuva Puraskar 2007 – National award for contribution to puppet theatre by the Ministry of Culture.
Anurupa Roy is one of the curators for the Special Projects at Serendipity Arts Festival 2019.
The Art Issue: Your exhibition Shadow Play will attempt to understand and view shadow puppets as intricate works of craft. What is the inspiration behind this thought and curation?
Anurupa Roy: Two things were the key driving forces behind this curation. Firstly, a new approach to presenting shadow puppet theatre that has a rich tradition in India but is such a powerful form for new expression and experiments. I wanted to show that journey of Shadows and also look at the steps between shadow puppets to the moving pictures. Secondly, for me Indian shadow puppet museum displays have always lacked the dynamism of the practice. This is an attempt to transpose the drama of shadow performances from the stage to the exhibition space.
AI: How did you choose the artists, or puppeteers, for this exhibition?
AR: Traditional shadow puppeteers, animators and non-traditional puppeteers will be a part of this exhibition. This includes master puppeteers who are experts of their oral narrative and traditional puppet form namely Gunduraju hi from Hassan, Karnataka, S.Chidambara Rao from Andhra Pradesh and Lakshmana, Sadananda, Balakrishna Pulluvar from Kerala. These artists were curated on the basis of their knowledge of their traditional form, and their expertise in shadow puppetry. Also they have lent from their own repertoire of puppets this rich collection; some of these are 500-600 years old.
The newer artists are from a non-traditional background and they use different aspects of shadow or moving pictures like Atul Sinha animator or members of modern puppet company The Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust Mohammed Shameem, Asha and Maneesh Pachiaru. These artists look for their inspiration both inside and outside tradition. In this case their inspiration was Goa and it's architecture.
AI: How does 'Shadow Play' fit into SAF’s broader theme of promoting inclusivity in the arts and diluting regional borders?
AR: This exhibition looks at the world of light, shadow and images. It relies on the visual language rather than the written one. It has thus very little written text. The idea is to be a space for both children and adults, belonging to any linguistic group, literate or not. The spoken words in the exhibition, in the form of songs, narratives and videos are multilingual. The idea of this exhibition is to enable audiences to have a sensorial and tactile experience which is beyond their regional or linguistic identities.
AI: Why did you choose the title 'Shadow Play' for this exhibition?
AR: The title Shadow Play looks has two meanings. One that it looks at the layers in Shadow puppet plays namely the narrative, the puppets, the stage and the contexts and dramatic elements of shadow performances.
Two it is also an exhibition that involves playing with shadow and animation games. The audience this also "plays" with Shadows.
The exhibition Shadow Play will be on view at Old GIM, Ribander from 15th-22nd December, 2019
This interview was conducted as a part of The Art Issue's media collaboration with the Serendipity Arts Festival, 2019