Eight-year-olds and papier mâché puppets take the stage to denounce war and spread the message of peace
ore than love, war can leave a lasting impression—at least according to Iranian playwright and director Mohammad Boroumand. After a lifetime of witnessing and reading about conflict, Boroumand created a non-verbal puppet show last year (which he is travelling the world with) to take the message of peace to the audience that matters the most—the children. “In The Last Leaf, I have tried to deal with two kinds of wars—extremism and the destruction of the nature. And I’ve tried to show it with fantasy, fiction and a lot of laughter. Puppets have a power that players don’t—they come alive in the audience’s imagination,” says Boroumand, who is also a documentary filmmaker and animation script writer.
Symbols of change
Though the first performance had Iranian, British, US and Turkish veterans (it was staged in Iran for ambassadors and officials of various countries), the director is performing in the city this weekend with a cast of children. “The story is set in a world where war is all-pervading, but when the peace bird arrives, it makes people realise their mistakes and strive to create a world without violence,” says the 44-year old. With six characters—a cockroach (symbolising a curious baby), a mouse (a gluttonous child), a cat (a coquettish girl), a dog (a proud boy), a man (a person seeking power) and a robot (technologies that destroy us)—Boroumand hints that the performance would also pull the audience in, getting “their cooperation to achieve peace and friendship for all”. “The sets will be simple: a platform for the puppets to walk and a tree whose leaves fall whenever the characters fight. We will also use techniques like multimedia projections and shadow theatre,” he says.
Citing a show in Bosnia and Herzegovina—where the children of an orphanage enthusiastically interacted with them—as one of his most memorable performances, Boroumand shares that he would also like to collaborate with local theatre artistes (perhaps even share puppets) to spread the reach of the show. “I’d like theatre troupes everywhere to travel across their countries, performing the play. Instead of using weapons, this is the way to fight,” he signs off.
Part of The Little Festival. At Museum Theatre, on July 5 (6 pm) and July 6 (10 am and 12 pm). Rs 200. Details: indianstage.in
—Surya Praphulla Kumar