Building with Bamboo is We Draman’s Cultural Ambassador performance for 2016. I was the musician and movement coach, playing flute and djembe… and doing a random bit of puppetry. Again, more on Rooftop: Building with Bamboo.
I co-directed this one with Billy Sy at Fringe Club Upstairs (Hong Kong). I was also music director, object maker, projection fixer and many other things. Most of the information about the show is on my company website: Rooftop Productions.
I co-directed, performed, wrote the app, made the instruments, wrote the music, played the instruments, and co-wrote the audio guide in The Beautiful Ones for my company, Rooftop Productions. If there had been any baskets in the performance, I would have woven them. I’ll include some photos below, but there is much more information about the show on the Rooftop Productions’ website.
I’ve been a little bit too busy to keep up with what’s happening in the Sidekick Project puppetry work. We’ve now finished the puppetry training stage of things and started rehearsals for the performance at APA drama theatre, which I’m happy to say should prove to be very untraditional and interesting. I’ll probably be playing the flute as well as doing string puppets, plate spinning and other crazy things.
We had some time off over Chinese New Year, and I missed a few sessions before that for various reasons, so it feels like a long time since working on puppetry stuff. Anyway, on the first day back I was very surprised to be given another new puppet to learn – the plate spinning hand puppet pictured. King (one of the other participants) is also working on a plate spinning puppet, with the idea that we can throw the plates to one another. These plates are much smaller and heavier than usual, and the sticks (apart from the one pictured on the puppet’s head) are much longer and bendier. Anyway, it’s very difficult. The most difficult thing for me is throwing the plate up in the air (using the puppet’s hands) and catching it on the stick on its head. Apart from that, I apparently spin the plate in the wrong direction. I could spin it one way after a few minutes’ practice, but after hours of trying the other (correct) way I’m not much better.
I’ve been keeping less of a complete journal of the Sidekick Project recently because there haven’t been many developments really (I posted a short clip on my new company website). I’ve continued working on the same puppet for a long time now, but I’m apparently good enough to move on. I’m starting to work on the pictured shadow puppet. It’s a lot simpler than the string puppets, but it still takes a lot of manual dexterity and adapting to the correct way to hold it. I’m concentrating on being able to move two sticks independently in one hand at the moment. Like all the other forms, getting a natural-looking walk comes from moving the whole body, not just the hands – the puppet’s steps are the same as the puppeteer’s.
Today we had a full day working with the group from Fujian who performed yesterday. They taught hand puppet techniques and worked on a hand puppet scene. The scene actually didn’t involve any horses or monkeys, and as the day went on the puppets we were using as stand ins gradually got replaced by the real characters’ puppets which were being sewn together and built while we practiced. I was very confused. There was a lot of Fujian dialect spoken, which I couldn’t understand even slightly. When they switched to Mandarin to explain things I was too slow to even notice, and had to rely on a simple Cantonese translation from Wong Sifu (although I understand some Mandarin I really can’t switch between the two). This contributed even further to my confusion.