An international puppet theater festival, which plans to feature 123 shows by troupes from Taiwan and abroad, is to begin in Yunlin County next Saturday.
The Yunlin International Puppet Arts Festival is to run until Oct. 14 at the Agriculture Expo Park in Huwei Township (虎尾).
Among the performers are award-winning Taiwanese troupes, such as the Hsin Hsing Ku Puppet Show Troupe, Liao Wen-ho Puppet Show Troupe and Chen Wu Chou Palm Puppet Troupe.
Utervision Company Japan, Israel’s Far Theater, Thailand’s Phuket Marionette, Vietnam’s Baby Style Productions and other overseas troupes also plan to stage shows at the festival.
“To me, puppets are not only puppets. They are people,” Chen Hsi-Huang Traditional Puppet Troupe founder Chen Hsi-huang (陳錫煌) said.
“When I can’t fall asleep at night, I’ll examine my puppets closely and observe the way they walk, turn or raise their hands,” said Chen, who specializes in hand puppetry.
Chen is the oldest son of Taiwanese master puppeteer Li Tien-lu (李天祿). In 2009, he was certified by the Ministry of Culture as a “living national treasure,” or a preserver of important traditional arts in the puppetry category.
Ministry of Culture’s Department of Arts Development director Chang Hui-chun (張惠君) said she was surprised to learn that there are 102 puppet theater troupes in Yunlin’s 20 townships alone.
Puppet theater was first performed outside temples in Taiwan before it was brought to the TV screen and now to theaters, she said.
“It has become a cultural brand that represents Taiwan,” Chang said.
Yunlin County has been dubbed the hometown of Taiwan glove puppetry. By inviting international puppet artists, the Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival, which began in 1999, hopes to enrich the puppet theater art form so that it can continue to develop and innovate.
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