Theatre Ribbons of silk and warriors on sticks

Ribbons of silk and warriors on sticks

Puppets and puppeteers moved in harmony in a sea of reds, blues, blacks and stars. A twisting dragon, a circling phoenix, a sparkling flute player, and a crowned dancer open the Guangdong Puppet Art Theatre’s first show.

Jing Xian puppeteers in ‘Guandong Puppet Art Theatre’ at the National Arts Festival with the support of The Embassy of The People’s Republic of China in association with The China Theatre Association, Grahamstown, 10 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Founded in 1956, the Guandong Provincial Puppet Art Theatre has performed extensively at festivals in France, Russia, Germany, Czach Republic, Hungary, Pajkistan, Cambodia, Myammer and the USA. Photo: CuePix/Pearla Berg.

Jing Xian puppeteers in ‘Guandong Puppet Art Theatre’ at the National Arts Festival with the support of The Embassy of The People’s Republic of China in association with The China Theatre Association, Grahamstown, 10 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Founded in 1956, the Guandong Provincial Puppet Art Theatre has performed extensively at festivals in France, Russia, Germany, Czach Republic, Hungary, Pajkistan, Cambodia, Myammer and the USA. Photo: CuePix/Pearla Berg.

The 90-minute performance showcased a diverse range of puppeteering techniques and talents reflecting the 2000-year history of Chinese puppetry.

Kaleidoscopic lights illuminated the puppeteers as they enacted several traditional and modern puppet stories, accompanied by the sounds of bells, symbols and a few contemporary tracks.

The tales enacted by the exquisitely decorated puppets explored relationships between human beings and nature. The stories transcended language and culture, speaking to human experience and an appreciation for ephemeral beauty.

The production included a tale of a fisherman and a sneaky crane, a fire-breathing devil, two sad lovers and a drunken emperor.

It was as magnificent to watch the puppeteers perform as it was to watch the puppets themselves. The skill of the performers at conveying emotion was nothing short of magical.

Towards the end of this captivating show, audience members were invited to play with the puppets and get a feel for what it takes to be a worldclass puppeteer manipulating ribbons of silk and warriors on sticks.

Sarah-Rose de Villiers & Heather Cameron

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