A couple of puppet based things to share today. Over the Easter vacation I spent a few days in Taiwan and while I was there I paid a visit to the Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum, which is an absolute gem and I thoroughly recommend a visit if you find yourself in Taipei. Spread over four stories of an old colonial merchant’s house, the museum houses a 100 seat puppet theatre and puppet workshop where puppet carver Lai Shi-an plies his craft in front of visitors. However, the exhibit itself is what makes the museum really worth a visit. Beautifully curated from a collection of 10,000 artefacts drawn from right across Asia, it traces the rich history of puppet theatre in the region.
I also want to share an interesting interview with puppeteer Max Humphries, whose work is largely inspired by Japanese Bunraku. In an article. No strings Attached by Max Dorey for Exuent, Dorey talks about the anatomy of the puppet, the puppet as actor and the joys of working with no strings attached.
I believe in trying to achieve the best possible mechanisms for a puppets movement and manipulation; finding the line between the needs of the puppet, the puppeteer, the maker and the performance. My ideal would be a theatrical landscape in which the puppet is viewed as actor, without preconceptions
Fascinating, I recommend a read.
A quick but superb share today, especially if you have an interest in world theatre forms. Discovered by a student of mine, Tsz Yu, while she was doing some research into movement and gesture of Japanese Noh actors. A new site, The Noh.com is a superb english language resource. There are a few other online sources out there, but they tend to be quite brief in their content aimed at a tourist market, rather than a resource for students. Noh.com is an evolving site with new material being added all the time. In the Trivia section you can ask, and expect an answer to any Noh related queries. The Play section is a real gift, as it contains a database of over 200 Noh plays, translated into english (shown alongside the Japanese text) which can de downloaded as PDF files.
Traditional print sources can be quite heavy going, so Noh.com is real find. Having said that there is one book that is particularly good, MASK: A Release Of Acting Resources Volume II. The Training of The Noh Actor, which is also on Google Books.
One of the better other online sources is from the Japanese Arts Council which has revamped its website and it is now much more accessible to non-Japanese speakers, including the process of booking tickets, should you find yourself in the country. They have three introductory guides available on the site:
These are great beginners guides if you are a novice in the main three traditional theatre forms. There is also a fantastic playlist on Youtube that has over 50 videos about these theatre forms, from documentaries to traditional music to recordings of performances. A veritable feast of all things Japanese Theatre.