Sun, Apr 23, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Young puppeteer fights for a declining art

PULLING THE STRINGS:The 26-year-old had only wanted to make puppets until his mentor showed him the holistic nature of the art, including music, acting and poetry

By Wu Po-hsuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

“Classical puppetry cannot compete with television or movie theaters as mass culture. Its future lies in its sophisticated aesthetics of movement, figures, costumes and artistic presentation,” he said.

“Performing abroad is a way for us to expand our perspectives, but it is unfortunate that by comparison, foreigners have more respect for puppetry as a traditional heritage, while domestically, people see it as something for children,” he added.

The Unique Puppet Theater aims to avoid reliance on proceeds from ticket sales or public subsidies, Kuo said, adding that traditional puppetry is a fine art that thrives best within a niche of adult aficionados, which the troupe cultivates by holding seminars.

Taiwan’s heritage of traditional puppetry is in decline and most of the nation’s 300 performance troupes have disbanded, he said, making conservation an urgent task.

Currently, he is interviewing elders in the profession to record their knowledge, as well as the culture and context of puppet plays for inclusion in a book that he intends to publish, Kuo said.

The government should help preserve traditional puppetry by encouraging educational institutions to offer classes and programs to groom professionals, he added.

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