Tholpavakoothu: Shadow Puppet Play of Kerala, India
Experience shadow puppetry by firelight! Masters of a traditional form of shadow puppetry from Kerala, India will perform scenes from the dramatic epic Ramayana, complete with scenes of battles, trickery, and the natural world. Experience shadow puppetry by firelight! Witness scenes from the dramatic epic Ramayana, complete with scenes of battles, trickery, and the natural world, performed by masters of Tholpavakoothu, a traditional form of shadow puppetry from Kerala, India. Come at 7:00 pm to try your hand at manipulating the handmade leather puppets, with guidance from our visiting artists; and then as dusk falls, stay to see a performance. Even puppet fans may never have seen shadow puppetry like this — the screen is illuminated by 21 lighted lamps made of coconuts cut in half, filled with coconut oil and lit with cotton wicks. About 160 puppets are used for this performance! Come early and bring a picnic dinner to enjoy on the lawn at One Brookline Place — just across the T tracks from Puppet Showplace Theater. We’ll also be scooping ice cream from Jamie’s Ice Cream Co!
Recommended for everyone age 4+
This summer, we’re bringing puppetry outside with Pay-What-You-Can immersive puppetry experiences!
Thurs Aug 10:
5:30 – 7:00 pm: Bring a picnic dinner to enjoy before the show!
7:00 – 7:45 pm: Try a puppet and visit with the performers behind the scenes
7:45 – 9:00 pm: Introduction, Ramayana performance, and brief Q&A with artists
Please RSVP so we can plan for seating space. You will be invited to make a Pay-What-You-Can contribution of $0-20 per person.
About the Artist:
Father and son Padmashri Ramachandra Pulavar and Rahul Koonatharaa are 11th- and 12th-generation masters of Tholpavakoothu, respectively. Traditionally practiced in Hindu Devi temples as ritual performance, Tholpavakoothu has also been popularized outside of the temple setting by Pulavar and his family through public performances. Their performances include renditions of ancient Indian classics like Panchatantra, the life stories of important figures like Mahatma Gandhi, and stories that explore contemporary social issues like women’s empowerment. Padmashri Pulavar has performed around the world and has received numerous awards for his artistic and cultural contributions.
Ramachandra Pulavar studied Tholpavakoothu with his father and guru from the time he was six years old. He quickly became an accomplished practitioner of the craft. Pulavar has performed around the world and has received numerous awards for his artistic and cultural contributions. Learn more about Pulavar and Tholpavakoothu here: http://tholpavakoothu.in
Rahul Koonathara is a M. A. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at University of Connecticut, Storrs. He comes from a traditional puppetry family in Kerala, studied at the National School of Drama inBengaluru, and has an MA in Folklore Studies from University of Calicut. His writing on Indian puppetry has been featured in journals and book chapters. In 2023 Koonathara collaborated on Ramayana: A Tale of Trees and Wood, an intercultural shadow puppet production that toured the northeast US.
Contact the Box Office:
617-731-6400 x 101
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