Fri, Oct 03, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Puppeteers unite

Once a year, Yunlin County becomes a gathering ground for puppeteers. This year’s festival sees some new performers

By Enru Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival opens tonight and continues to Oct. 12.

Photo Courtesy of Yunlin County Cultural Affairs Department

Since 1999, Huwei (虎尾) has been home to the Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival (雲林國際偶戲節), the only event in the county listed in the Time for Taiwan calendar (台灣觀光年曆) for national tourism events.

Highlights of this year’s festival, which opens tonight, include industry celebrities as well as new puppeteers to the trade.

The program lists stars like Chen Han-chung (陳漢忠) of Ah-Chung Glove Puppetry (阿忠布袋戲), Wang Ying-chieh (王英潔) of the Taichung Puppet Theater (台中木偶劇團) and folk singer Lee E-jun (李翊君).

Four newly licensed puppeteers from Yunlin Second Prison’s (雲林第二監獄) are also expected to make their debut.

Taught by the Ming-Shi-Jie Hand Puppet Troupe (明世界掌中劇團) of Changhua County, the four prison inmates obtained their street-performing licenses earlier this year in a new rehabilitation project by the Agency of Corrections.

“These are the first licensed performers and it’s their first time performing outside the prison,” said festival coordinator Chang Chia-hao (張佳皓) of the Yunlin County Cultural Affairs Department.

Their one-hour drama, titled The New Three Kingdoms — Cross the Barriers (新三國─過五關), will blend traditional puppetry with lion dance and drumming, Chang said.

Other scene newcomers are brought to the festival by a national apprenticeship program aimed at preserving the craft and developing talent. This year, 20 master artists trained fledgling puppeteers at 51 locations across Taiwan.

Throughout the festival, school and community clubs will stage 65 shows based on classics, fables and local stories. They are eligible for prizes at the Golden Palm Awards (偶戲金掌獎), which recognizes productions for best narration, teamwork, original script, puppetry technique, sound, visuals and other categories.

Performance notes

What: 2014 Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival

Where: Yunlin Story House, 528, Linsen Rd Sec 1, Huwei Township, Yunlin County (雲林縣虎尾鎮林森路一段528號) and Yunlin Hand Puppet Museum (布袋戲館), 498 Linsen Rd Sec 1, Yunlin County, Huwei Township (林森路一段498號)

When: Opens tonight at 7:30pm. Daily from 10am to 8:30pm until Oct. 12

Tickets: Free except for international shows (NT$100 each, available at the door)

Shows by Taiwanese troupes are free and shows by international companies are NT$100 per performance, Chang said.

The festival program includes 32 shows by troupes from the US, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and other countries.

From Japan, Takenoko-kai brings an ancient form of marionette that uses the teita, a wooden board, to control the expressions and movements of puppets.

Roppets Edutainment Productions, winner of the Outstanding Educational Entertainment award by Who’s Who in the Philippines, offers colorful child-friendly programs with innovative special effects.

The Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival opens tonight and runs to Oct. 12 with puppet productions, exhibitions, cosplay shows, workshops and other activities. Shows are in Chinese, Hakka, Hokkien, English, Japanese or other languages, with no subtitles. For a full list of events, visit

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