18 June 2012

Puppetry News fom China

Our 'World of Paper' performances at the recent festival in Chengdu were most enthusiastically received by a mainly Chinese audience and this makes me very grateful for having chose the evocative medium of paper as our theatrical expression, without the necessity of having to add human language to put our message across.

After having organised nearly two years ago that we'd be doing workshops and a performance, the goals suddenly changed just prior to the festival. We were suddenly informed by the organising committee that we would be performing nine short theatrical pieces in one day. Even this crazy goal wasn't without it's absurdities - when we were commanded to perform outdoors. The agreement, of course, was that all our paper work would take place indoors, due to the theatrical necessity of playing in a dark space, as anyone who's seen our work would immediately understand.

After much ado about very little, we were finally put into the indoor hall in the Park of the International Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was more like performing in a huge supermarket than a theatre. But we put on with a brave face and managed to get through seven performances on the day, five of which were even different productions, together with live Chinese traditional music. (We hired a local musician, Cha-Cha, from Chengdu to accompany our performances.)

The experience of having performed at the UNIMA Festival, as challenging as it was and believe me when I say it wasn't easy, was an enriching and rewarding experience, especially realising that every piece we did came across well and was understood by an audience who had no command of English. I guess I should just take off my hat to the power of puppetry and as I have proved many times before, it is truly an international cross-cultural as well as cross-linguistic communication tool.

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