Yunlin puppet theater festival to feature over 120 shows

2017/09/27 17:58:41
CNA file photo from 2016 Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival

CNA file photo from 2016 Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival

Taipei, Sept. 27 (CNA) An international puppet theater festival will kick off in Yunlin County on Oct. 7 that will feature 123 shows by troupes from Taiwan and abroad.

The Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival will run until Oct. 14 at the Agriculture Expo Park in Huwei Township.

Among those to perform are award-winning Taiwanese troupes, such as the Hsin Hsing Ku Puppet Show Troupe, Liao Wen-ho Puppet Show Troupe and Chen Wu Chou Palm Puppet Troupe.

Utervision Company Japan, Israel's Far Theater, Thailand's Phuket Marionette, Vietnam's Baby Style Productions and other overseas troupes will also stage shows at the festival.

"To me, puppets are not only puppets. They are people," Chen Hsi-huang (陳錫煌), founder of Chen Hsi-Huang Traditional Puppet Troupe, said Tuesday.

"When I can't fall asleep at night, I'll examine my puppets closely and observe the way they walk, turn or raise their hands," said Chen, who specializes in hand puppetry.

Chen is the oldest son of Taiwanese master puppeteer Li Tian-lu (李天祿). In 2009, he was certified by the Ministry of Culture as a "living national treasure," or a preserver of important traditional arts (in the puppetry category).

Chang Hui-chun (張惠君), director of the Ministry of Culture's Department of Arts Development, said she was surprised to learn that there are 102 puppet theater troupes in Yunlin's 20 townships alone.

Puppet theater was first performed outside temples in Taiwan, before it was brought to the TV screen and now to theaters, she said.

"It has become a cultural brand that represents Taiwan," Chang said.

Yunlin County has been dubbed the hometown of Taiwan glove puppetry. The Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival began in 1999 as a means to reinvigorate puppet theater -- an art form that has been on the decline.

By inviting international puppet theater artists to Taiwan, the Yunlin County government hopes to enrich the puppet theater artform so that it can continue to develop and innovate.

(By Wang Yi-ju and Christie Chen)
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