Vietnam Time

7/12/2017 2:09:06 PM

Vietnam water puppetry to be introduced to RoK’s audience

(VNF) - Vietnamese artist Phan Thanh Liem and his four colleagues will stage eight shows featuring Vietnam’s traditional water puppetry at Yang ju Culture and Arts Center, in the Republic of Korea (RoK), from July 25th to August 10th.

Water puppeteer Phan Thanh Liem.

The shows are to be made at the invitation of Vietnam – RoK Friendship Association marking the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries.

During their performances, which will last around 50 minutes each, the team will introduce classic water puppetry plays to Korean audiences, such as duck catching and the dragon and phoenix dances.

This will be the third time Liem has performed in the RoK and he shared that Korean audiences have shown great interest in Vietnam’s water puppetry.

He said that he hopes to bring an up close look on Vietnam’s cultural identity to Korean friends during the upcoming trip.

Phan Thanh Liem was born into a family that have been preserving water puppetry in Nam Truc district, in the northern province of Nam Dinh, for seven generations. His father is the famous puppeteer Phan Van Ngai, who created the mobile water puppetry stage. Ngai also made the Chu Teu (a humorous farmer) puppet, which is on display in France’s Louvre Museum.

He is the very first artisan to create a mini water puppetry stage, which hosts regular shows at his private house on Kham Thien street in Hanoi and has attracted many visitors both from home and abroad.

Liem has been invited to bring his mobile theatre to many international puppet festivals around the world including in the UK, the RoK, Thailand, China, Italy, Canada and the US.

Water Puppetry is full of joys, lighting and colors and surprises for the audience.

Water puppet is a typical form of Vietnamese art, which has existed for more than 1000 years. In many guide books in Vietnam, people said that “Not watching a performance of water puppetry means not visiting Vietnam yet.” And it is definitely true that most visitors to Vietnam should try to watch a performance of water puppetry at least once.

In the past, water puppetry once served for the King’s family and ancient Vietnamese aristocracy amusement. Until the 11th century, it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Nowadays, water puppetry is widely performed in big modern theaters or in some special stages for conservation and preservation Vietnamese traditions.

It is one of Vietnamese tradition that referred to Vietnamese traditions by means of water puppets, like daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing…), or historical legends. It tells of daily living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales that are told by grandparents to their grandchildren.

A water puppet show is performed in a pool of water as the stage of the puppets. The water puppets are made of lacquered wood and designed by the artists. They also have their own names, which represents for their characters in real life, such as: Uncle Teu (represented for a young, healthy and poor farmer), Dragons (represented for Vietnamese spirits), Fairies, Fox, Ducks, etc. They all can dance and play a lot of interesting items accompanied by animated music and singing.

A water puppet show depicts the daily activities in Vietnamese rural life as well as important historical events and ancient legends.

The puppets are controlled by no more than eight puppeteers hiding behind a bamboo screen. They stand on a round wooden plate which can rotate around it horizontal. The plate is linked with a long pole and the puppeteers will use large rods to support the puppets moving. You will see no puppeteers, no machines or instruments, and even no controlling poles. You only watch the puppets on a water surface.

If you’re visiting big cities in Vietnam, you can buy tickets, then enjoy water puppetry in some big theatres, such as Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi, The Vietnam Puppetry Theatre, Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre in Saigon, etc.

It can be performed originally in a Vietnamese village or in some museum, such as: Yen Duc Village in Quang Ninh Province, The Museum of Vietnamese History in Saigon, etc./.

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