Sunday, 1 September 2013

There's something in the water

I thought I was past the age when I would find myself at a puppet show - past that age by a few decades actually.

But in Hanoi anything goes and like many other adults I found myself at a water puppet show.

Long before there was Disney on Ice, it seems the Vietnamese were perfecting puppets on water.

An art form dating back almost ten centuries, it is believed water puppetry was started by those working in flooded rice fields.   It seems they didn't let the absence of dry land get in their way of a good time.

So while other puppeteers stand high and dry above the stage and dangle their puppets down, water puppetry sees the puppeteers sitting in a back half of a pool, behind a screen.   At the front of the stage (pool) the puppets come to life at their command, walking and dancing across the water.

The arrangement means you don't see any strings or wires, as all the operating mechanisms are hidden under the water.

Now to be clear, I'm not normally a puppetry fan, but it's not too hard to be entertained by a water puppet show.

Sure, there's a very "touristy" element to the shows in Hanoi, but let's face it, it's not something you're going to see at home anytime soon.

Made out of wood, the puppets are surprisingly animated and recreate legends, rural scenes and other traditional activities as they skim across the water.  The puppet characters include people, buffalo, water fairies and even a fire-spouting dragon.

Although I wasn't rushing out to buy the show's soundtrack (a mix of singing, clangs and drums), it was still a welcome reprieve from the continual roar of Hanoi's traffic!

1 comment:

  1. Those water puppets are amazing! I wonder how many people fit back there and control them?