Puppet House

Arts Education

Grant Period: Three Years

Puppet House was established in Dharwad in 2005 by Dr Prakash and Rajani Garud with the primary objective of bringing theatre into elementary education. Since its inception, Puppet House has actively engaged with teachers and children, especially in north Karnataka, bringing theatre closer to mainstream education in schools and colleges. Dr Prakash Garud, a noted thespian of Puppet House, received two grants from IFA in the 1990s. The first grant enabled him to collaborate with contemporary theatre artists, visual artists, traditional leather puppeteers, folk musicians and children, to develop a repertoire of shadow plays. With the second IFA grant, Dr Garud and his team travelled extensively with the productions, introducing shadow puppetry to various schools in Karnataka. The present grant enables Puppet House to conduct a series of intensive and rigorous theatre and puppetry workshops in and around Dharwad, with the idea of reinforcing and institutionalising theatre arts pedagogy at the school and collegiate levels in northern Karnataka. The core crew of Puppet House consists of Dr Prakash Garud, Manager K.K. Venkatesha, Educationist Rajani Garud, and Facilitators Digvijay Heggoddu, Nagaraj Heggade, Purshottam Talavat, and Sunanda Guruva.

The Navajbai Ratan Tata Trust (NRTT) and IFA will co-fund and jointly monitor and review the project. This three-year ‘theatre for education’ project comprises of two main components––first, conducting theatre workshops for two months every year and building a repertory of semi-professional artists (mostly agricultural labourers); second, and more importantly, conducting workshops for children and teachers with Diplomas in Education with a view to strengthen arts pedagogies in elementary and collegiate education in northern Karnataka. The workshops will be conducted under four major categories––children’s workshops, teacher training programmes, productions and annual workshops. Workshops and theatre appreciation courses will be conducted by the resource persons during summer vacations for school children across Dharwad. The last five days of the children’s workshop are planned to overlap with the first five days of the three-and-a-half month teacher training programme. Modelled as an intensive training workshop for teachers, this programme will simultaneously train two batches of 20 trainees in using various teaching aids and techniques.

In the next phase, the trained teachers will tour widely with their productions as well as hold interactive workshops with children in various schools and colleges in Dharwad. Over the three-year period, follow-up events will be held in the schools, specifically working with teachers who have participated in the previous workshops. In the second and the third years of the grant period, focus will be placed on region-based organisation of the trained teachers. Functioning as informal taluk level resource centres, these teachers’ groups will conduct as many three-day workshops as possible with the purpose of disseminating the theatre pedagogy among teachers in rural areas. Work towards compiling a resource handbook on theatre pedagogy that will act as a classroom aid, will begin in the second year. During the third year, Puppet House, along with the workshop ‘graduates’, hopes to make concerted efforts towards lobbying with teacher training colleges in the region to consider according curricular status to training in ‘theatre for education’. Puppet House has already secured active cooperation from four colleges in Dharwad and one college in Hubli to conduct the first set of the 20-day workshop series.