On Sunday afternoon we had a performance in the courtyard of the JCCAC, which if I understood correctly was to celebrate this puppet company from Fujian (I’m sorry, I don’t know the company’s name) moving to work in Hong Kong. They did some rod and hand puppet performances which were very impressive.
Our teacher performed a monkey marionette piece which is incredibly cool – the monkey interacts with him a bit and jumps on his legs. A great thing about this is that the strings are used to great effect to allow the monkey to swing around move around quickly in a circle – faster than would be possible with something like a hand puppet. It’s also great to see a traditional form used in a way in which the puppeteer is not hidden, and even has some interaction with the puppet.
On this same theme, there were a couple of erhu players doing modern kind of ‘Western’ style music on them. It reminded me a little of the cellist duet who do metal covers. I have no idea what they have to do with the two puppet companies – there was no cross-over, which is a shame. The puppets all have pre-recorded music.
We finished the show with our monkey shadow puppet routine (that is, all the new puppeteers like me performing) which wasn’t too bad apart from some stuck joints. It probably seems a little silly, but during the performance is the first and only time I’ve used the actual shadow puppet screen – and I didn’t realise until then quite how low the lights are. Being tall is certainly an advantage for the marionettes, but I foresee a lot of squatting to operate shadow puppets and hand puppets.
Also present was a very cool looking calligraphy master (pictured above – should be obvious which one he is.) There was initially a lot of standing around for photographs with important people, holding undoubtedly auspicious but indecipherable scrolls.