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Must-watch performance: A 20-ft dinosaur that can bite as well as dance

Puppeteer Anurupa Roy of Katkatha on directing a 20 ft dinosaur that can bite as well as dance

Written by Dipanita Nath | New Delhi |
Updated: July 10, 2014 11:24:22 am
T Rex with Katkatha puppeteers. Anurupa Roy is at the centre. T Rex with Katkatha puppeteers. Anurupa Roy is at the centre.

Under the vast green shade of bamboo trees in Badarpur, where baby birds are learning to fly, on ground that has been sectioned into patches to grow pumpkins, chillies, a variety of saag, maize and pomegranate, now walks a mighty dinosaur.

Admittedly, he is made of thermocol, recycled cardboard and common pin, but the T Rex can still pack a punch. “Or bite,” says city-based puppeteer Anurupa Roy about her organisation, Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust’s latest creation.

Designed by former NSDian Shravan Hegudu and puppeteer Md Shameen, the T Rex will makes its first public appearance at the Aha Children and Youth Festival at Ranga Shankara in Bangalore on July 12.

In the next few months, it will make its way around Delhi. Excerpts from an interview with Roy, who has directed the show:

Experts in White

Wherever we perform, we are going to dig a little earth and from this, we are going to find some bones. Three of us, dressed in white lab coats of paleontologists, start talking to the audience. While we do all of this, the dinosaur comes and stands behind us.

The completely obsessed paleontologists start studying it, and one starts fiddling with the dinosaur’s teeth and the animal grabs his hand and they realise the T Rex is actually alive.

We essentially want the children on our side, so this dinosaur loves music and dances to hip hop. While children will have fun, we are also playing with the heads of adults, who will be interested in the technicalities. We know about dinosaur skeletons, but the colour of its skin is only conjecture.

How did they communicate? Did they have a system of language? The paleontologists jabber in bits of Hindi and English but largely in gibberish because science talk seems like gibberish to many of us, including the dinosaur. Our T Rex defies scientists, and pushes people to imagine what a dinosaur could do.

A show called Tamasha

The dinosaur is a part of a show called Tamasha and one of the things about a tamasha is that it was essentially done on the streets in India. The main idea of the show with the dinosaur is that we can play it in a marketplace, on a foyer or a lawn — essentially places where people don’t expect there will be theatre.

At Ranga Shankara, we will perform when the audience is lining up for a show. We want a show that keeps growing, and our plan is to make three more sections; T Rex is the first step. After a few weeks, we will add a show which will have only coloured fabric that we will use to tell a love story.

Dino on the Streets

We are getting a feeling that that fewer people are turning up to theaters so we want to take theatre to the people. We had a pterodactyl in 2006, we also had a 13 ft tall Kansa puppet. We always play it on streets and it really works well when this big Kansa walks up. That’s how this show with the T Rex came about; we decided not to keep it restricted to proscenium but really bring it out on streets.

Now we don’t know how to take the dinosaur out to real streets as police are particular about permission, some places are zero-tolerance zones, and you can use certain parks after permissions, but it takes a long time. We will play in the big park in Shadipur, and the one at Badarpur once rainwater recedes, we are also targeting mohallas in Tughlakabad as well as a few markets.

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