It’s the end of the first week and it’s been quite tiring. It’s much harder work to spend a day on marionettes than it is on shadow puppets – it’s just physically quite hard to hold them up for so long, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
We had the full day with master Wong, learning marionette techniques for 野豬林. I’m continuing to work on one of the two police-equivalent characters (衙差 – I think it’s usually translated as marshal). I learned how to attach a stick to the puppet’s hands (using a small elastic band, looped either side of the hand and over the thumb, winding the wrist-string around the long end). Apart from that, various ways of hitting things with the stick – both with the right hand holding the paddle and controlling the stick, or with the left hand holding the paddle while controlling a leg. I also learned to fall over sideways. The interesting thing about the marionettes is the way you move your whole body in order to make the puppet realistic – to fall over your drop your weight down to the side, not just your arms. The teacher is really incredible to watch in this way – he’s pretty much performing the role at the same time as the puppet.
We then worked on the first part of the scene with 林沖, in which he’s attacked by the two marshals. Two people are controlling 林沖, King on the body and legs, and Doobie on the hands. There’s a moment where 林沖 grabs both of the marshalls’ sticks, which is very difficult to pull off. Everything fits to a Chinese opera sound track, which is kind of hard for me to follow – but probably just as hard for everyone else.
Master Wong was also working on a routine using a monkey marionette to interact with one of King’s muppet puppets, which looks like it will be very funny.
I didn’t have time to take any photos, so the photo is one from the original workshops that I never published, but it features the puppet I’m working with.