Naranjarte Puppetry and Circus in Johor Baru

When my friends at Pertubuhan Kebajikan Cahaya Surya Bakti, the volunteer society which manages the Rohingya Community School here, told me about the visit planned by Naranjarte, they also shared some background info to introduce them.

Ana and Sergio of Naranjarte with students at
the Rohingya Community School 
By reading this material, I soon learnt that Naranjarte is a Spanish company formed by a couple, Ana Lorite and Sergio Aguilar, who are passionate about the art of puppetry and classical circus.

Naranjarte was formed in 2011 when the two artistes pooled their experiences in theatre and circus to perform with puppets and marionettes that they designed and built.

Ana received an honourable mention for her final degree project in the study entitled, “Puppetry in English Language Teaching,” and is seeking to broaden her knowledge by combining her expertise in puppetry and circus with her husband and artistic partner, Sergio.

A section of the audience
watching the puppetry and circus show
Since September 2017, Naranjarte has embarked on developing an innovative educational project called, “Puppetry and Circus: A Trip around the World’s Schools.”

From Spain to Malawi in Africa, Naranjarte passed through Europe, Asia, Australia and South America to expand its research worldwide with visits to schools in various countries in order to prove the benefits of using Puppetry and Circus in Language Teaching.

[Language Teaching happens to be among my pet projects and several years ago, I even ventured to undergo a course in Teaching English as a Second Language with emphasis on English for Specific Purposes, conducted by University Teknologi Malaysia (Skudai campus) when it was first offered here.]

Ana performing with Nitunga the
marionette while Sergio juggles
glass globes
While travelling the world, Naranjarte are in Johor and have arranged an experience with the students in the Rohingya Community School in Kempas – first to observe the classes and finally, present a Puppetry and Circus show – to which I was invited.

On that appointed day, I was delighted to join the students and tutors at the education centre to watch a 20-minute performance by Naranjarte.

As I watched the show, I also observed how the students were thrilled and fascinated by the hand-puppet (named Frankie!) and the skilful way in which Ana and Sergio juggled glass globes!

Ana and Sergio ended their show with a Question & Answer session.

The students’ curious questions were duly answered, and we were hasppy to learn that the word, Naranjarte simply means Orange in Spanish.

The youngsters were clearly fascinated by their hand-puppet and marionette, which I later learnt, was named Nitunga, because Ana carved and created it in 2013 for an African themed show in the UK.

This is Frankie, the hand-puppet
After the performance, I had a few minutes to chat with Ana and Sergio to find out more about Naranjarte.

They told me that so far, their research covered 16 different schools in nine different countries situated across four continents.

Ana explained that in a city or country, they would pick two schools that are entirely different.

For instance, a local school versus an international school, so that their research would be with a different set of students and their experience with the schools should yield more comprehensive findings.

Ana and Sergio shared with me about their research methodology at the schools, which is designed in three phases.

In Phase One, Naranjarte would attend the schools’ daily class as observers.

Frankie was a life-like hand-puppet
In Phase Two, Naranjarte would work on a particular language subject with the students by using the four main types of Puppetry and Circus to develop the four skills in language learning – Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing – or to work on different aspects of communication through visual stimuli and using puppets and circus in the lessons.

At the end of Phase Two, Naranjarte would distribute a Questionnaire to the students who have completed the lesson with them. On the final day, they would also interview the language teachers.

From these interviews and the students’ anonymous feedback in the Questionnaire, Naranjarte would analyse the Practice and add the data into their global research.

At the end of the Observation and Practice phases, Naranjarte would then present one show, suitable for all audiences, as a token of appreciation to the school.

While they were in any country, Ana and Sergio would also take the opportunity to meet and interview local puppeteers to learn more about their art and culture, and to date they have interviewed some 44 puppeteers worldwide.

The finale in the show by Naranjarte
When Sergio mentioned the Wayang Kulit puppeteers they met in Indonesia, I asked if they have met any Malaysian Wayang Kulit masters, to which they replied, “No.”

This gave me an opportunity to connect Naranjarte with my friends, the creators of Fusion Wayang Kulit – Peperangan Bintang (Star Wars) futuristic adventures – which they will perform in the form of Malay traditional shadow puppeteers!

Ana and Sergio were thrilled with the prospect of meeting the creators of this fusion form of Wayang Kulit and will arrange a meeting with them in Kuala Lumpur before they leave Malaysia for their next destination.

For more info on Naranjarte, find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or view their videos on YouTube.

Note: While the school term follows the Malaysian school schedule, the school hours at the Rohingya Community School are from 8.45am to 1pm, followed by religious classes from 1pm to 3pm.

Enquiries for support and partnerships with Pertubuhan Kebajikan Cahaya Surya Bakti should be sent to email: 

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