Monthly Archives: April 2011

There and Back Again

I had been anxious to return to the troupe I studied with for a short summer in 2008.  Not for any particular reason, and for many.  There are few better ways to test your character than to travel to a country much different from your own.  There are also few better ways to see how you’ve changed than by returning to the same place after a few falls have passed.

I knew HuaXian would have changed, as change is the constant in China.  I had no idea how much or how little and I had no idea how the first two months experience on the Fulbright, working with so many varied artist in shadow puppetry, would change my somewhat insular view from three years ago.

HuaXian lies directly east of Xi’an.  It’s about an hour and a half ride with no traffic.  The freeways and tollbooths are new, but the bus is as rickety as ever. Expectedly, everyone from the ticket seller, to ticket taker, to bus driver insisted I must be going to HuaShan – the popular tourist mountain not far from there, but no, I insisted back, I was actually headed to that remote little town of HuaXian in search of shadow puppets.

The city has indeed changed, grown.  My grocery store and outdoor market were moved a few streets away to make room for some glitzy new clothing stores.   The city park got a facelift and the urban sprawl has spilled a bit further.  But beyond the little city center, life is much as it was.  The farmers are carrying on with their annual routine like no time has passed.

The small city bus dropped me off on the non-descript road 20 minutes east of HuaXian proper.  I took one breath and let the nostalgia sink in.  Funny how some things can remain so vivid in our minds, however old.

I looked around for my ‘hotel’ to find that it has gotten a new facelift as well.  The landlady greeted me with her hearty laugh and swiftly placed me in the same room I spent the summer in last time.  We chatted briefly, but I was anxious to see everyone else.  I went to the one restaurant on the street, then the one small snack shop and lastly, the school.

The school was deserted.  The silhouette is the same, but the details have rearranged.

As I peered in the windows, I could see that it was no longer a school.  What used to be a small cultural company attached to a larger technical school was now just a large cultural company.  The original YuTian company has expanded their museum and facilities to overtake the main buildings and the students have been moved elsewhere.

I sat on a rock and listened to the nothing.

The following day the troupe arrived back to school.  They were unexpectedly put to the task of renovating a room for the expanding “black pottery” studios. My master, Wei Laoshi, was responsible for running electricity to the outer building. Instead of watching the musicians, singer and puppet master sledge hammer brick and rewire, I wandered through the old campus.

Hidden behind those new buildings, remnants of its old life.

Now

Then

Now

Then

Now

The place feels so lonely now.

This is what memories do.

I spent the rest of the two days there mostly perusing their newly expanded museum.  Xiao Liu, YuTian’s most capable tour guide, graciously took me around the rooms a few times as there were no other visitors to command her attention.  The collection is modest, but a lovely assortment to show off Shaanxi’s diversity.

Traditional Ming Dynasty Female Figure

A bad daughter-in-law is cursed to live in the skin of a Donkey.

Cultural Revolution Puppets

Chinese Farmer during the Cultural Revolution Era

Without a doubt, WangTianWen’s (‘The First Knife’) pieces were the finest examples of cutting mastery.

At night, the troupe was tired.  We dined with other company members until the sun faded.  

Puppet Master Wei Jin Quan

I didn’t see them rehearse once and they had no performances.

Just as my three-day trip was coming to a close, the puppeteers had finished their demolition work.

I can’t quite get a read on how the troupe feels about the new situation.  I also don’t know what kind of audiences they have and in what capacity.  I will ease into these questions when I feel we are ready.

My entire trip to HuaXian was for the purpose of reacquainting myself with the troupe, assessing what kind of study would fit into my schedule this year and to wrestle with a bit of the past.   Due to YuTian’s new branch in Xi’an and the export of the expert cutters to the city, my return trips to HuaXian will be focused on documenting their remaining countryside performances as they dwindle exponentially each year.

I was just as reluctant to leave as I was to arrive, but for different reasons.  I have changed, they have changed, we have changed apart.  I realize that I am doing what the puppets are doing, trending towards the urban centers.   I feel torn, but am sure that this will ultimately be the best use of my time here.  And if change is constant, then perhaps this is just another ebb and flow in the long history of ebbs and flows that shadow puppetry has weathered.  I hope so.

Thanks for reading~

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To Cut A Puppet : Huazhou Style

The cutting room at YuTian WenHua 

For a solid week, I had the luxury of simply going to a work studio everyday.  I split my time between the YuTian cutters studio and the Shaanxi Provincial Folk Art Theatre’s shadow puppet rehearsals and designer’s studios.   The ‘making’ part is where I feel most comfortable, most at home.  Learning with my hands and my materials.

This is the perfect opportunity to let you in on the cutting process; partially because it’s a beautiful craft developed over two thousand years and partially because I am relearning it myself.

To be clear, this is specifically the HuaZhou style of cutting.  This style is found primarily in Xi’an and its eastern countryside and is very similar to the entire northern central region of China.

In this workshop, they are mostly working with older designs as their historic value makes them the most profitable.  Below are a few old style puppets to give you a sense of what we’re aiming for:

Female and Male pair with stools, upper class.

A pair of older mischievous ladies, middle to lower class.

To Cut A Traditional HuaZhou Style Shadow Puppet 


Tools & Materials

  • Your design
  • Thumb Tacks
  • Transclucent cowhide
  • Heavy/Flat objects
  • Cotton Cloth (moistened)
  • A set of hand blades (8-12) with a rounded handle approximately 3” long
  • A set of punches (6-10) of varying sizes
  • Needles tool
  • A wooden hammer stick
  • A wooden cutting board
  • Rulers, straight edges, and French curves
  • A rough sharpening stone
  • A finishing sharpening stone
  • Bottle of water for sharpening knives

The makers begin with their chosen design printed at full scale.

With drawing in hand, they cut smaller pieces from a large translucent cowhide – about 1” wider than the defined outer edge of the design.   Dry, this cowhide has the feel of an unruly sheet of thick plastic; incredibly stiff, curled and inflexible.

With a needle tipped tool, they scratch the design into the cowhide as it’s tacked flat over their printed design.  The detail of the trace depends on the experience of the cutter.  I have to draw absolutely every little line and cut out or I’ll lose my sense of the pattern, while my friend WangYan can lay down about 1/3 of the lines.

WangYan tracing the body of a large warrior design

Next, the dry cowhide is placed between two heavy tiles (or whatever you have that is extremely heavy and flat) that are lined with moistened cotton cloth.  However dry your cowhide is and wet the cloth is will determine how long the cowhide is left sitting.  Moisture softens the cowhide enough to be able to push your blade through it, but too much moisture renders it unusable for several hours.  You can’t leave your cowhide between tiles during lunch, or you won’t be able to cut until late afternoon (remember when I said I learn better from mistakes?).

To aid in obtaining the perfect balance of moist and dry, the cutters place a folded piece of cotton cloth and folded plastic sheeting under their boards.  The former keeps pieces flat while they dry quickly and the latter helps the pieces dry slowly and more uniformly.  Experienced cutters are usually juggling a myriad of pieces in and out of tiles, under their boards and under their knife.  I can barely handle two pieces without forgetting about one between tiles.

Once a piece is ready to cut (and I’m beginning to believe that this is the most nuanced part of the process) the fun can begin.  The cutters have different theories on where to begin cutting on your design.  Steadfast rules are leaving cut pieces in place and cutting the outer edge at the very end.  Leaving the pieces in place keeps the leather from distorting as you push the cowhide into your blade and leaving the outer edge of your design gives you room to push with your non-cutting hand without cutting your fingers.

<The following explanation is for a right hander, flip this if you’re a lefty.>

With a small hand blade in your right hand, face the sharp edge towards your left. The blade is pushed down into the cowhide in order to catch on the wooden board below and hold steady. With your left hand, push and direct the cowhide towards the blade in your right hand.  See a short video here.

Yes, he’s pushing his cowhide towards that knife edge with his bare fingers.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘my mother told me to never cut towards my fingers’.  I was thinking this too and I told them so when I first started cutting in 2008.  They all laughed.  I didn’t think the thought of losing my left hand digits was so funny, but… Of the leather cutting methods I’ve seen, this method absolutely gives you the best control.  I was ready to sacrifice my fingers for art.  Happy to announce I am typing now with all intact.

The designs are a mix of curved cuts, straight cuts and punches.  The knife chosen depends entirely on the cut.  Sharpely angled blades are for smaller curves and twists, larger angled blades for wider curves and straight tipped blades for straight lines.

The punches are also a variety of shapes and sizes; mostly half and ¾ circles.  They are placed perpendicular to the leather and hit with the wooden hammer tool to literally ‘punch’ through the leather. Many punched designs are combinations of larger and smaller sizes to create the look of a small flower or seam, etc.

From L to R:  punches, next to the set of small hand knives in the box, and my friend PengXing sharpening his knives on the rough stone.

The knives must be hand sharpened about every 100 cuts.  The punches must be sharpened too, but with absolute care, once broken, they cannot be fixed.

Once the pattern is finished, the cuts are punched out and the piece is sent to the painters.  Depending on the size of the piece, one puppet can take anywhere from 1-4 days working about 8 hours per day.

However basic, every step of this process takes skill.  The point of mastery is understanding how all of these variables interact with each other.   The consistency of the cowhide, the sharpness of your blades, and the skill in executing a design, etc.

After a week of study at YuTian, I am just a bit past where I left off in 2008.  This means that I can cut the leather, but my design execution is still relatively poor.  I have the most trouble with small turns and very fragile patterns/pieces.   I don’t quite trust the leather or myself just yet.

My first cutting sample of the year (a few elements left uncut); some pieces punches out and some not.  I was reluctant to photograph it, but as my cutter friend said, ‘you’ll want to remember where you started’.

Through this work, and watching other artists in China work, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about work ethic vs. discipline.  My work ethic is in tandem with theirs.  None of us shy away from long hours at the worktable or behind the screen. But it’s become clear to me that my discipline is lacking.  I am impatient and bored easily.  When I finally have a piece of cowhide ready to cut, I rush through it, hoping to cut as much as possible before it gets dry again.

After the completion of my first piece this week, WangYan simply said ‘you must go slowly.  One piece in one day, two days, ten days – as long as it takes.’

It’s funny, I have always wanted discipline.  But, perhaps, I don’t have enough discipline to obtain it.  Hmm.  I have no idea how to go about cultivating this, but then again, its just one of the adventures I must embark on this year.

Thanks for reading~

Old School

After a morning of shadow puppet rehearsal and practice at the Shaanxi Provincial Folk Art Theatre, artistic director Liang Jun announced he was taking me to DaTangXiShi. Instead of asking questions, I just nodded my head and said a quick goodbye to the puppeteers.

We jumped onto a series of buses and were dumped onto a large street next to a gigantic new building, made to look like old Xi’an.  Oh no, I thought.  Another tourist trap?  Some people have described it as a kind of Tang Dynasty amusement park, with no rides.  As we circled around the complex, we came into contact with everything from food stalls to an international museum expo to an outdoor stage featuring Tang Dynasty dancing and music.

I trailed Liang Jun as he walked briskly past everything and back into a quieter area.  We spotted a sign for YuTian WenHua, YuTian Culture, and slipped inside the building. Two floors of workshops, galleries and shops featuring Tang Dynasty goodies.  As Liang Jun and I browsed through one of the stores, we both heard a burst of drums and banging and turned on our heels to see what was playing.  What we found was a decent sized restaurant with an equally decent sized stage featuring very traditional peasant music from Shaanxi province.  It’s the very music, indeed the same songs, I had heard while studying in the countryside in 2008.

Alongside an animated crowd, we watched the musicians finish and the shadow puppeteers start. The first bundle of puppet shows were new; colorful, cute, well executed and accompanied by lovely music.   Dancers with fans, on little tippy toes, cute little girls in pigtails doing leaps in tandem, and happy dragons passing a circus ball back and forth.  All a joy to watch.

However, they saved the best for last.

During the short transition to the final presentation, they brought the screen forward, pulled the curtains in a bit and dimmed the lights.  The shadow puppet light went from 20 fluorescent tubes to a single light source.

The music began suddenly with a series of explosive symbol clangs, whiny, twangy erhu and bahu notes and a high-pitched male voice.  To anyone unfamiliar with the clamor, it can be grating. To others, it’s a refreshing kick in the shorts.  This is old style, folks.

The curtain opened and it was something so familiar.  I had seen this show a few times during my first apprenticeship in HuaXian county.  I felt at home.   The puppets are smaller and their design is infinitely more complex.  One puppeteer puppets the entire show, supported by one singer and three musicians.

As with the countryside shows, you are allowed to view the performance from behind the screen.

The show ended in just over ten minutes and the puppeteers came out to receive their applause.  And would you believe it?  I know these guys!

The YuTian company in HuaXian has joined with the Xi’an branch and the troupe has been transplanted to the city for daily performances.  What a joyful reunion it was.

The rest of the evening continued to bring good surprises.  As we toured the rest of the space, I was shown to the shadow puppetry wing – an area of he building dedicated to shadow puppet design, cutting, painting, stringing, history, etc.  This is all open to the public, six days a week.  Again, my leather cutting friends from HuaXian were there.  In my excitement, I unconsciously went in for hugs, only to remember too late that Chinese people aren’t so thrilled about them.

Wang Yan (my teacher from HuaXian) and I back together again.  Her cutting work is perfection.

To add to the unbelievability of it all, the night Liang Jun brought me happened to be some sort of shadow puppet kick off/reunion.  Everyone from the region was there to celebrate.  The ‘first knife’ cutting master (who I will be studying with!) the most famous singer (you may have seen him in ZhangYiMou’s To Live), and the owner of the place.

The “First Knife”.  Shaanxi Province’s biggest shadow puppetry cutting Master. Pictured here in front of the largest piece in his display room at YuTian.  The puppet stands about 12 feet high.

YuTian WenHua is just what I thought Xi’an needed.  An accessible place to see and learn about shadow puppetry.  The artists are the real deal and there is just enough cheese to please the less apt theatre goer.

This ain’t machine made folks.  This is the real deal.

A thing of beauty, isn’t it?  This is closeup of a woman’s dress pattern.

Sadly, this also signifies another stage in the transition of an old folk art.  Its move from the countryside to Xi’an confirms its current status as more of a museum piece than a living, breathing art form.   Right now, it also means reaching far more people, but perhaps in a more temporary way.  The shadow puppet shows no longer function as a central role in a community’s happenings, but as a once a year dinnertime entertainment.

I’m taking this in positive stride.  I’m well aware that without funding or a few passionate, motivated and influential people, shadow puppetry could fade away into historic obscurity.  Instead a new generation of Xi’an-ites will have seen it first hand, not just heard about it from their Grandparents.

So, needless to say, if you’re anywhere near Xi’an, go.  Go, go, go.

Thanks for reading~

INFO:

DaTangXiShi (Tang Dynasty City): On LaoDongLu (Road) between YouyYiLu (Road) and FengQingLu (Road) in the southwest corner of Xi’an outside the city wall but inside the 2nd ring road.  Ask your hotel or hostel and they can get you there.

Yutian Website:  www.yutianwenhua.com

(Chinese only, although I’ve offered to help put up the English version sometime soon)

We Are Shaanxi Family

After discovering the machine made shadow puppets for sale at the Muslim Quarters on Wednesday, I decided to forgo another tourist heavy performance at the ‘tea house’ located there and instead set off to find the Shaanxi Provincial Folk Arts Theatre.  I had spoken briefly with the artistic director earlier that morning.  Liang Jun gave me a bus number and a bus stop, but no other directions.  I had a feeling a hunt was in store.

The prescribed bus was nowhere to be found.  As the time ticked on, I finally caved and got in a three-wheel taxi.  My driver knew the name of the bus stop I was after and we headed off.  But of course, LiJiaCun is not just a bus stop, it’s an area.  The three of us became entangled in a 10-minute farce driving around in circles until we ended up in front of a row of nondescript computer shops and food stalls.  Huh?

Liang Jun was out front to greet me.  He ushered me under their camouflaged sign, through a parking lot, into an unmarked doorway and up to his office.  There we talked the afternoon away.

The company is a collection of a few smaller troupes; rod puppetry, shadow puppetry, dance and music.  I was confused at first by the fact that they don’t perform in Xi’an, but just about everywhere else.  I think it’s best to think of them like cultural ambassadors from Shaanxi province.  The shadow puppetry troupe is scheduled to travel to Germany in a month and the dance and music troupes are heading to Seattle in May for a residency and performance.   The lack of pomp and circumstance on the street makes more sense now.

They seem to be healthily funded.  As of last year they had about 125 members working full time.  Liang Jun told me that 63 people retired at once last year and now they’ve got about that remaining.

Liang Jun is their fearless leader.

He is the kind of guy that can excite an audience.  He’s youthful, energetic and passionate about everything.  In the span of three hours, we covered the company’s doings, his training in everything from kung fu to shadow puppetry, his self-taught English, his travels around the world with the company and his son’s recent marriage.  In keeping with his personality, he’s entirely welcomed me to sit in any and all rehearsals, study when I can, and visit the puppet maker’s workshops.

Shaanxi style rod-puppet Head, made by the theatre staff:

On Thursday I did just that.  I got to the theatre around 9 am to spend the day with the shadow puppeteers.  It’s amazing how much you can learn just by watching other people work.  During this rehearsal they were teaching a couple of new shows to some newer puppeteers.  The teaching methodology and pace here is similar.  Laid back, full of smoke breaks, bursts of frustration and laughter.

A view from the side of the puppet screen.

Short video clip of rehearsal.  (Quality is a bit low since the estimated to time to upload the HD version was around 2 days…)

I’m a person who prefers, as tiring as it is, to learn from mistakes rather than doing it perfectly the first time.   If I do it right the first time, it’s likely I won’t be able to replicate it.  I usually have to work through all the wrong ways to fully understand my final success.  To watch other new puppeteers struggling with the same things I do is second best to going through all of it myself.  Although I was content to watch for the day, I was encouraged to practice ‘walking the woman’ when the company was breaking.

If you remember my difficulty learning the hand positions for ‘walking the woman’ in Beijing, then you’ll understand my delight (sarcasm, folks) in seeing that these puppeteers have entirely different hand positions.  My fingers are already complaining.

After our day at the theatre, the Liang’s took me to a dinner around the corner.  A plate piled high with liang cai cold dishes, some lamb kabobs and two plates overloaded with jiao zi dumplings.  As we ate through the dishes and washed them down with some weak Chinese beer, Liang Jun and his wife insisted that I consider myself ‘just like their daughter’. I’m to call them Aiyi (Aunt) and ShuShu (Uncle).

It was a much more comforting end to the day than my morning at the Muslim Quarter.  I’ll be working with the puppeteers and designers here for much of my time in Xi’an.  I’ll be dining with Auntie and Uncle Liang when I’m not pounding the pavement for puppets.

Thanks for reading~

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore

I’ve arrived in Xian after a whirlwind first month in Beijing.  Riding the 14-hour overnight train on a hard seat forced me to pull my first all-nighter since college.  And I wasn’t any good at it then.  It took me two full days to get the molasses out of my system.

Yesterday, I was feeling like myself again and ready to dive into Xi’an.  By noon, I was stymied with a bunch of wrong numbers, internet black holes and general dead ends.  Today, with the help of fellow Xi’an Fulbrighter Nicole W. and stateside scholar Fan Pen Chen, I was ready and equipped with new leads.

I started my day at Xi’an’s famed Muslin Quarter to check out the tourist mecca in the center of town.  Whenever I tell a Xi’an resident that I’m studying shadow puppetry, they refer me to the old Tea House here with hourly performances.  I was skeptical as to its authenticity, but wanted to check it out for myself.

I arrived at the bustling street and immediately ran into a string of shops selling ‘shaanxi traditional’ shadow puppets.

In 2008, I had checked out these shops and found handmade shadow puppets made out of very thin cowhide, nothing you could perform with.  That’s ok – I understood these were for people to frame and put up on the wall.

Today, I looked closely at my first puppet and my heart stopped.  It was machine made.

Pardon my inability to hide my heartache here.

On my last day in Beijing, I met a puppet-making master from TangShan to hear his story and set up a meeting in June and August.  Just before we parted, he asked me if I knew how to ‘recognize the difference in a machine made puppet’.  I wasn’t quite sure what he was referring to.

Now I know.

Perhaps to the passer by, there is no difference. But to anyone who prizes a well-made thing, a craft, it is a glaring inequality.

Left: hand cut sample.  The cuts on the edge come to a final point – the meeting of two thin blade cuts.  Right: the laser cut sample.  Not only is the design lacking feeling, the cut widths are uniform and the cut ends are round – the exact size of the laser.

I’m not sure how wide spread this is.  Xi’an is, arguably, the largest reseller of Chinese shadow puppets and the Muslim Quarter is one of the most frequented tourist spots in Xi’an.  Out of the five shadow puppet stores on the street, about 80% of them were machine made.  When I asked the storeowner why, oh why would she want to sell machine made puppets, she simply answered ‘they’re cheaper.’

For about 35 Yuan (about $6) you can buy a laser cut puppet.  The handmade puppets are over 3 times as much.

I couldn’t answer her.  There is nothing to argue and nothing to say.  Isn’t this the way of the world?

I know things must change and I know in the grand scheme of things this is, perhaps, such a small thing.  But I am close to it here.  To the most creative, talented and generous artists struggling to keep this thing going.  I can’t help but worry with them about how many more blows they can take.

I didn’t have the heart to follow all of this up with a tourist performance at the old Tea House.  Instead I headed straight to find the Shaanxi Provincial Folk Art Theatre and what I found there lifted my spirits directly.  I’ll be writing about them shortly and posting here.

Thanks for reading~

For more related articles on machine-made puppetry, click here: Fake It Till You Make It

The New Kids on the Block

I haven’t written about the HanFeiZi company until now because, well, I wasn’t quite sure how to. I’ve been to their live/work space in the Northeast of Beijing a half a dozen times now and still can’t quite figure out how to define what they do. Then I realized, perhaps that’s exactly what they do; never the same thing twice.

HanFeiZi was started by the Han family company from DongBei. Twelve years ago they decided to move to a more culturally active city and have been performing a myriad of styles and stories in Beijing since. I wouldn’t call them a shadow puppet company, but it’s a large part of nearly everything they put on. HanFeiZi is, arguably, the most progressive theatre company in the capitol city that incorporates traditional shadow puppetry elements into their performances.

They are considered a ‘younger’ company not simply because of their age in Beijing, but because the puppeteers aren’t direct descendants from a long line of PiYing masters. This hinders their ability to cultivate the clout of a ‘preservation’ company, but frees them to innovate and push the traditional forms forward.

Eric Young (a fantastic young student interested in theatre and marketing-helping the Beijing puppet community at large), Han Xing, Han Chi

Stepping into their live/work studio in the far Northeastern sector of Beijing is a familiar feeling. The atmosphere is akin to any workspace of a small theatre company in America. A long and skinny room acts as their main workspace because of its clear plastic ceiling that offers the most light in the daytime. Against its walls are piles of puppetry materials, colorful fabric scraps, cow hide and performance puppets. Each time I visit there is a new person to meet and a pile of work to be done.

A hired PiYing cutter, Shaanxi Style.

Han Chi, and her brother Han Xing, team up to head this company. They collaborate with local artist, their parents, and a few international artists to make about three shows each year. This collaborative philosophy runs in tandem with their belief that elements of traditional Chinese forms (shadow puppetry, Peking opera, etc) should be preserved, but some elements need updating in order to survive this century.

Designs, new puppets, and puppet materials.

Unlike most of the other relationships I’ve been building here, it’s hard for me to know where my place is in a setting like this. It’s at once familiar, and of course, completely not. I’m not taking class, but I am a student. I’m a peer, but an outsider. We have an instant connection through our work and our views on theatre in general, but we’re still operating through a thick language and cultural barrier. There is so much I want to ask, and know. I’m eager and often impatient to see it all at once. But that doesn’t make sense with a living, breathing company. It makes more sense to just be with them, through the seasons, seeing how they do it.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do. I spend one to two days a week with the company. The routine has developed into arriving shortly before lunch, helping with what I can, breaking to eat and talk, working the afternoon away, snapping a few pictures and finishing with a collective dinner.

This particular workday will be my last for a while. I’m leaving Beijing on Saturday to start my first ‘loop’ around China to meet with known and unknown contacts in Xian, HuaXian, Chengdu and GuangDong. Happily, my return trip to Beijing is already planned so it’s not goodbye for long. As the sun sets slowly, the ten of us split up the tasks of cooking, setting up the small card table and collecting a myriad of mismatched stools.

After the hustle of preparations dim and we are ready to sit, we do so with little ceremony. A slow start, then a flurry of the first few hungry mouthfuls, and then we begin to talk. After a few moments, I too, let myself take a break from everything but the taste of good food and the sound of lively chatter.

I’m learning how this unconventional classroom and relaxation of time and purpose changes the learning experience. The acquisition of new skill and regional differences in shadow puppetry is still paramount – but I can’t forget how important it is to just sit and eat and work with like-minded artist from halfway around the globe.

I’ll be back in the summer to see their new show for kids about the environment and will update you then.

Thanks for reading~

For a more recent post on the company, click the following link: A Shadow in the Right Direction

Find information on their most recent show at http://www.youliugui.org/