Puppeteers from across the country demanded government support for saving the once popular art form and its practitioners.
In absence of adequate opportunities for staging shows, puppeteers are struggling to support families. Besides, the young are not showing interest toward puppetry considering it a bad career choice.
While talking to New Age, puppeteers and owners of puppetry troupes from across the country demanded financial support and patronisation for reviving the art form.
Five traditional puppeteers from different district-based troupes are attending a five-day workshop on contemporary puppetry organised by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and conducted by Padmashri-winning Indian puppeteer Suresh Dutta.
Besides the puppeteers, students from theatre departments of different universities and theatre activists from different troupes are participating at the workshop, which began at BSA on Monday.
Kushtia-based puppeteer Abdul Kuddus, who has been involved in puppetry since 1972, said that puppetry troupes in the southern part of the country are struggling. Most of the puppetry troupes there have disappeared in the past few decades.
Dinajpur-based puppeteer Monidutt Adhikari, also proprietor of Samnnay Putulnatya, said, ‘most puppeteers are struggling to make a living. As a result, they are switching to other professions. The situation will not improve until we receive support from the government’.
Another puppeteer Abdul Kuddus, owner of Kushtia-based troupe Monhora Putulnach, said, ‘young puppet enthusiasts are showing less interest to pursue puppetry as a profession as puppeteers struggle to earn a decent living. Most of the puppeteers have to do other jobs to support their families as puppet shows are not held regularly’, said Kuddus.
‘If the government gives us a monthly stipend, we can devote ourselves totally to puppetry’, added Kuddus.
Puppetry researcher Dr Rashid Haroon, also professor of Drama and Dramatics Department at Jahangirnagar University, said that lack of patronisation, lack of adaptations of the troupes with contemporary time, and aggression of foreign culture are the reasons responsible for the sorry state of puppetry in the country.
‘We need to train puppetry troupes to make productions relevant to today’s society and organise more shows in fairs, festivals and educational institutes to revive the scene’, said Haroon, who thanked Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy for its interest in puppetry.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy director general Liaquat Ali Lucky said they were working to revive the lost glory of puppetry.
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