Tag Archives: chinese shadow puppet

A Revolution in Shadows

Even though shadow puppetry was widely banned throughout the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), performances still took place. Most of these were pre-approved stories and dramas that towed the line for the New Republic of China, replacing stories of warlords and emperors and other eradicated roles in society.

Many troupes preferred to lay down their shadows all together, rather than take up this new directive. Some troupes weren’t given the choice. Since the 1980s, these shows have not been performed much, if at all. And, when asked about them, I usually get a muttered and incomprehensible answer. Probably, it’s a subject most would like to forget.

Still, I love what few Communist-era shadow puppets I have been able to glimpse. The aesthetic is so different, so modern and simplified – and still so striking. Politics do nothing to sway me here – the puppets are beautiful. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading and looking~

These puppets are all housed in the Luanzhou Shadow Puppet Museum in Hebei Province.

Note: The soldiers in green are Communist soldiers; soldiers in gold/yellow are Guomindang (Kuomintang) or the National Revolutionary’s Army soldiers.

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How to Make a Simplified Colored Plastic Chinese Shadow Puppet

In February, I got to visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to present a demonstration/workshop combo to a huge number of visitors to their ‘China Day’ festivities. The development team and I talked quite a bit about how to handle such a large number of audience members in a very short amount of time. I ended up developing some simplified colored, plastic Chinese-style shadow puppets that are simplified (only 2 rods and 6 joints) from the original Chinese shadow puppet design (3 rods and 9/10 joints).

Old Man Plastic Puppet

This simplified design helps kids and beginners start manipulating the puppets better, sooner – without sacrificing much of the puppet’s agility. And, they’re sturdy enough to hold up to hundreds of kids doing their worst and enchant them with awe at the same time. Win, win.

*Though some of the steps in the process can be fussy, it’s worth the effort. Please message me if you need additional clarity and I can edit as necessary. Of course, feel free to modify the materials and joints/etc however you see fit – “there’s many ways to skin a cat” as they say.

Tools & Materials

  • Your design in color/Color print out of traditional shadow puppet *For Chinese shadow puppet pics, click here: www.chineseshadowpuppetry.com (and go to the aesthetic tab – all photos can be downloaded)
  • Dura-lar, acetate or other clear plastic sheeting (.030-.040” thick)     *(you’ll need about a 8.5×11” area for one 12” puppet)
  • A Black Permanent Marker
  • Colored Permanent Markers
  • A sharp scissors
  • 16 – 20 Gauge Wire (about 1’ per puppet)
  • Wire snips
  • Needle Nosed Plier
  • An Awl or Needle Tool
  • 1/8” Wooden Rods (12”-16”long) or Chopsticks
  • Duct/Gaff Tape (6”)

Begin by printing your design onto paper. (You can browse through any of the pictures in the slideshow here and download your favorite one.)

Print Your Template

Once you pick your favorite shadow puppet template, you will be tracing/coloring and cutting out the following pieces (as illustrated in the picture below):

  1. Head and torso, plus one full arm
  2. One upper arm piece
  3. One lower arm piece
  4. One hand
  5. One hip piece
  6. One front leg with foot
  7. One back leg with foot

Template Piece Breakdown

Lay this design under your piece of dura-lar plastic and tape to secure if needed. Keep in mind that you’ll be cutting out separate pieces of the design, so to maximize your plastic, push them as close together and to the edge as possible – like when you cut cookies out of rolled dough.

Trace

I start out tracing the outline in black marker, then filling out the colored patterns within the piece and going over the entire piece with black marker outlining. Of course, expriment and find which way works best for you.

Color In Your Template

After you’ve traced all your pieces and colored them in, simply cut them out with a sharp scissors.

Here comes the hard part: putting those pieces together!

Line your pieces up where they should be joined together and make a hole through both pieces with your awl or needlepoint tool.

Poke A Hole

Looking at some of the finished designs, you can get a sense of where to place these joints (hint: they’re placed almost exactly where they are on the human body – i.e. shoulder, elbow, knee.) This will give you a good approximation of where to start, but know that you might get it wrong the first time and have to try a few more holes. You’ll know the holes are in the wrong place if the puppet, at rest, hangs at an awkward angle. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

Once you’ve made the joints in the correct place, now it’s time to make your wire joints. Cut a piece of wire about 1” long (step 1). Make a small circle, the size of your needle-nosed pliers, on one end and flatten it, perpendicular to the rest of the piece (step 2).

Joint Steps

Push the straight end of the wire through the joint hole.

Joint Step 2

With the straight end on the other side, make another circle and press flat (step 3). Repeat as needed! (If these joints don’t move freely, loosen the two circle ends away from the plastic joints. Play with it until it hands just right.)

Joints

Once your puppet is fully jointed together, you’ll want to attach control rods for your hands to be able to manipulate the puppet. These are usually placed (one) at thefront or back of the neck and (one) on the free hand. (See below)

Finished Puppet

For your two control rod wires, cut a wire piece about 4” long (step 1). Make a hole on the top part of the hand (where indicated) and at the back or front of the neck. In the middle of the 4” piece of wire, make a perfect circle with your needle-nosed pliers about 1/8”–1/4” in diameter (step 2).

Rod Connectors

Slide one through each hold: neck and hand.

Rod Connectors Step 2

Once through, pinch and twist the excess wire into a tight spiral.

Pinch and Twist

Tape that excess to your rod using very tacky tape (duct, gaff, etc). If your tape is 2-3” wide, rip it in half lengthwise.

Rod

Tape to Rod

Now, you’re ready to start puppeting!

Finished Puppet

*Check the http://www.chineseshadowpuppetry.com’s DIY page to figure out screen and lighting options

Thanks for reading~

Fake It Till You Make It

For any of you who have been following this blog for awhile, you already know the issue of machine-made puppets within the world of Chinese shadow puppetry.  Two years ago, I wrote specifically about their growing dominance of shadow puppet market and how this newer/faster/cheaper specimen is hard e to distinguish from the real thing, and more urgently, how it is rapidly depleting whatever market was left for handmade puppets.

I’ve stated this before and I’ll state it again: I have no problem with machine-made objects or mass-produced copies of an original.  What I do have a problem with is the exploitation of a public’s lack of expertise and knowledge in order to sell these mass-produced machine-made objects as something else; in this case, a hand-cut shadow puppet.

This machine-made issue continues to be a problem wherever shadow puppets are sold.  A fellow puppeteer recently told me he bought some puppets off eBay.  Without even asking him about it, I knew they had to be laser cut.  With a cursory search, I turned up a number of options labeling themselves as ‘Chinese Handicrafts’, even ‘Vintage Chinese Shadow Puppet’ although – at anywhere from $9.99-$29.99, I’d bet my shorts there is nothing handmade or vintage about the thing.  And they’re not.  Just hold your cursor over the photos for magnification and you’ll see the tell tale sign of the laser cut (covered in this earlier post).

Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 3.16.19 PMFind it here.

Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 3.16.50 PM Find it here.

Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 3.17.33 PMFind it here.

And as crabby as that makes me, a newer, more complicated threat has been creeping in on the shadow puppet horizon as of late.  It’s a sneakier, smarter knock-off that’s been duping the best of them.  China is now beginning to create hand-cut faux antique pieces.

I first encountered these when I went to visit a dealer friend of mine at the legendary Pangjiayuan ‘Antique Market’ in Beijing during my Fulbright year (2011).  I’d met him earlier on the shadow puppet circuit, most memorably at the shadow puppet conference in Gansu province.  I contacted him to do a bit more research on the going prices for shadow puppets from different regions (as the market has jumped notably in the last 5 years or so) and he gave me much more of an education than I bargained for.

After we were done chatting about regional styles, going prices, and machine-made puppets (of which he had a few), he took a long pause and gave me a sideways glance.  “See that puppet up there?” he asked.  “The small Northeastern style male figure?” I asked.  He nodded.  “What do you think?” he asked coyly.  I walked over to the small Eastern Beijing style puppet hanging on the line and looked a little closer.  It was hand cut.  Ok.  I looked closer.  It had a dark patina on it, which usually indicates usage/wear/age as smoke lanterns and oil from human hands darkens the leather, but this one was different.  It looked slightly dusty and crusty, instead of well worn.  Upon even closer inspection I could see that there was no additional wear marks on any of the control rod connections or joints.  This really piqued my curiosity.

“What is this?” I asked.  Not wanted to make a claim I would be too embarrassed to retract.  Again, he paused for a long time.  I wasn’t sure he was going to tell me.  “They’re fake old puppets.”

Sh*t.

We spent the next 30 minutes or so going over the details, the things to note, the sensorial features of faked antique puppets and at some point I threw up my hands.  It was hard to tell on some of them.  “How will I, can I, ever be sure?”  He reminded me that now, after seeing so many machine-made puppets, I could pick them out of a lineup.  Well, that’s what it would be like with fakes once I got more experience.  It’s simple connoisseurship.  I bought a few fake samples to take home with me, just in case.  I thanked him, deeply, and said my goodbyes.

Faux Antique

Faux Antique 2My fake-antique samples.  Look pretty good, don’t they?

Although it’s a few years back, I remember this day and this meeting with such clarity.  Probably because it gave me such a royal shakedown.  After a day or two of feeling defeated, I tried hard to revive my spirits.  I reminded myself that there wouldn’t be fake-antiqued puppets if there wasn’t money to be made from them.  China has been knocking off their antique jade and porcelain for decades, successfully selling their wares to local and foreign museums and collectors.  Shouldn’t I feel happy that shadow puppetry has achieved the honor of being forged?

Over the last few years, those wishy-washy feelings of forced optimism have faded completely.  The fake issue within the shadow puppet market of China needs to be controlled.  The best way to do this is to devise an easy method(s) to identify fakes and transmit this knowledge to those who need it.  In my initial research, I’ve secured a wonderful museum with a solid Chinese shadow puppet collection – who I believe has a few fakes – to allow some testing and further experimentation to be done.  With some cooperation from a few puppet cutters in China who have sourced a few possible chemicals used for the shadow puppet patinas and some connections in North America from museum archivists on how to go about devising a test, I believe we have a starting point.

Since my first encounter with a faked-antique, I’ve seen thousands more puppets in numerous collections and museums on both sides of the globe.  My connoisseurship is far above what it was 3 years ago.   Seeing the real and the fake, the old and the new old, has repeatedly set me on course.  We owe it to the incredible masters who have given their life to doing it the hard way, every day.

Thanks, so much, for reading~

Additional reading on museum fakes and China:

A Hebei Province museum closes when it’s discovered that most of its artifacts are fake:                          http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/jul/17/jibaozhai-museum-closed-fakes-china

Forging and Art Market in China/NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/china-art-fraud/

Bloomberg weighs in on China’s growing global antique market and the number of fakes:                                                        http://www.bloomberg.com/video/89827873-growing-number-of-fake-antiques-in-china.html

History Repeats Itself

This past year has been an incredible mash-up of personal and professional adventures.  I’ve been able to return to China twice (a record for me) and also appreciate home more than ever.  And even though my stays at home leave me longing for the shadow puppet trail, I’ve also been able to do a different kind of searching here in America.

As part of my continued research stateside, I’ve come into contact with a surprising number of amazing scholars, students, enthusiasts and cheerleaders for the work – egging me on and keeping me going.

A few days after I landed back on US soil in December 2011, I was gifted a present in my inbox.  One Grant Hayter-Menzies, a biographer living in the west of Canada, had found me through my blog and asked if we could chat as he was in the midst of finishing a biography about Pauline Benton.  Pauline Benton, hmmm.  My mind ticked back through my dusty Rolodex of names – and – oh Yes.  I knew about her Chinese shadow puppet collection – now housed with the Chinese Theatre Works company in New York – and a few tidbits about her life, but the details were fuzzy.

We started a correspondence, Grant and I, and after an interview, chats via phone and email, I was given the opportunity to read his manuscript before it’s officially published through McGill-Queens University Press.  I can’t tell you what a dream it was to read, both for content and also for its writing.

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Pauline Benton was an American Woman from Kansas, born just before the turn of last century.  She fell in love with puppetry in 1923 when she encountered her first shadow puppet performance in the courtyard of her Aunt Emma, who was then teaching in Beijing.   From there, she dedicated her life to become its lone steward in the states – the first female puppet master in the west and a collector, collaborator and creator of shadow puppet shows in her own right.  Her company, The Red Gate Shadow Players, were ambassadors for both the Chinese people and their incredible folk artistry during an ever-changing relationship to the states.

What Grant does so well with all his beautifully researched facts is make it, her and shadow puppetry, come to life.  He places her amazing story within such a rich context that you can’t help but be transported.   He takes you to Beijing in the 1920s, with all its chaos and tumult.  You also get to travel to New York in the early part of the century and around the country as a fledgling Chinese shadow puppet troupe tries to make a name for themselves despite the obvious obstacles.   Between performances at the White House for the Roosevelts and the seedy streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown, you can feel the determination and dedication of Pauline and her troupe mates.

Of all the historical books I’ve read on shadow puppetry, this is the one I will reread over and over again – if not for pleasure, then for encouragement.  To know of a woman doing much the same work nearly 80 years earlier makes me feel comforted, supported.  I’ve got company on the puppet trail.   Somehow, without even knowing much about her, I seemed to have traced much the same path and even drawn many of the same conclusions on my own.  We seem to be kindred spirits, only separated by time.   Now, I simply have to live up to the rest of the trail she blazed for a Shadow Woman.

The story is echoing a theme in my recent musings of the past years of fieldwork, driving home the fact and fear of knowing that the stories we carry die with us if we don’t share them.  Whose responsibility is it to share these?  The teller or the listener?  As I finished the Epilogue, I had a moment of panic followed quickly by gratitude.  I can already tell this story, this work, will continue to impact me for many years to come – and to think it could have so easily remained buried and eventually lost forever but for another story hunter who saw its quiet potential.

This is a book for anyone who recognizes the inherent curse and blessing in a passion you can’t ignore.

I will certainly post the book’s release on the blog!

Thanks for reading~

Shadow Woman, The Extraodinary Career of Pauline Benton by Grant Hayter-Menzies.  Due out in Fall 2013 from McGill-Queens University Press, Montreal.  Press release below.

Hayter-Menzies PR

Visit Grant’s other works here at: http://redroom.com/member/grant-hayter-menzies

Information on the Pauline Benton collection at Chinese Theatre Works: http://www.chinesetheatreworks.org/w/education/images/

China-Lite

During my Fulbright tenure, I had a few friends who took their precious two-week out-of-country trip to nearby Taiwan.  Their reports were so glowing I was suspect.  “The air!  The order!  The internet access!”, they’d exclaim.  Could it be true?  In the year that has followed my return, I’ve heard countless people recount the same wondrous impossibilities to me: “no one spits!” “I didn’t get travel diarrhea!”

Finding out I was headed there this past November to travel with the Taiyuan Puppet Company (whom I met in Beijing last year) on their Touch Taiwan project and check out the Lin Liu-Hsin Puppet Theatre Museums Chinese shadow puppet collection got me so curious.  I was going back to China, or was I?

Mainland China and Taiwan’s political conflict runs deep.  If you know anything about the Communist Revolution, then you’re well versed why.   But, it goes beyond that.  Since then, their relationship has remained tenuous at best.

I arrived on a long flight from the Netherlands and couldn’t tell quite where I was.  They were speaking Chinese, yes, but so much of what I had come to know and love about mainland China wasn’t immediately present.  There really was no spitting.  And – so. much. order.  The Taiwanese people wait in line quietly for the next subway.  These waiting lines are painted in clear pathways on the platform floor and no one is a step out of place.  (I actually butted ahead of someone, not noticing the painted lines, and got a ‘she’s from the mainland’ dig from a person behind me.)  The sense actually didn’t make sense to me.  I don’t mean to say that mainland China is only a bundle of chaos, but there is a level of unpredictability and disorder that exists just under the surface, all the time.  Adventure, good and bad, is always in the air.  Taiwan was immediately safe and knowable.

After a few days fighting off a terrible cold and flu, I finally made my way to the oldest part of Taipei, the Dadaocheng district, to meet up with the Taiyuan Theatre Company.  Here, the streets narrowed, the smells erupted and the sound pollution tripled.  I felt a familiarity in the air.  The puppet theatre resides in a cozy four-floor building and butts up next to their partner museum that houses a lovely, comprehensive Asian puppetry collection.  The entire place is a physical manifestation of my brain and heart: half practitioner and puppeteer, half researcher and archivist.  It instantly felt like home.

The office was exactly as I’d imagined – a hive of activity and laughter.  It took me but a moment to get situated, meet everyone and I spent the rest of the week working on various projects including scenic painting for their latest puppet show.

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Rehearsal for their next show, with the Golden Ray style of hand puppets – which are slightly larger than the oldest form.

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Scenic painting some desert rocks – in progress.

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The puppet theatre

When I’m not in the workshop, I climb the rickety stairs out back to another haven: the beautifully kept puppet archives.  Inside the frosty chambers are shelves upon shelves of treasures so beautiful, I feel subservient.  You can reach out and touch them, actually touch them.  All of them, perfectly laid out on their corresponding shelf – everything from hand puppets, shadow puppets, rod puppets, head pieces, and accessories from nearly every Asian country.

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IMG_1939They look like they’re just resting there, waiting for you to appreciate them.

I spent a couple afternoons helping the museum identify a few sets of Chinese shadow puppets and to simply spend time with the pieces.  So few collections are this close to me.  Usually, the great pieces in the mainland are behind glass and unable to be touched, others are in collections so wrapped up in red tape, I’ll probably never see them.  It was great to touch, to smell, to scrutinize in glorious leisure.

When my time came to an end, they waved me off in characteristic style.  We split a feast of food at their meeting table and shared a few gracious toasts.  I was sad to leave, but as usual, confident I’ll find an excuse to return.

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As I found my way to the airport, without a hitch in the getting there, I was again made to recognize the benefits to Taiwan’s ideological proximity – somewhere in between mainland China and the west.  The collection in particular.  My inquiries of pieces, of origins, of context are met with equal interest, never offense.  The education that intimacy with the pieces brings is unparalleled.  Just as I was grateful for the opportunity here, I grumbled about the treasures that will most likely remain out of my reach on the mainland – forever.  I may spend a lifetime in service to the art form and never get a moment with the true ancestors.

Still, in some ways, I missed the fight, the adventure, the obstacles that the mainland always presents to me.  It has helped me tangibly connect with my own desire to understand and champion the art form.  So, glad for the mainland and glad for China-lite – both of which give me an different entry point into this tradition that I love so well.

Thanks for reading~

 

It’s A Small World

I first met Joanne Oussoren and Frans Hakkemars of Droomtheater in Hong Kong, where we had gathered for Mingri Theatre Company’s Puppetry in Education conference.  There, even amongst a crowd of other puppeteers, we repeatedly found ourselves in conversations.  Perhaps it was because of their similar interests in puppetry as a vehicle for passing on cultural inheritance or our shared love of ancient forms of theatre.  Most likely, I suspect is was simply their open and inquisitive nature that drew me to them.

As community artists working often in their own neighborhoods in and around the burgeoning working-class metropolis of Rotterdam, Holland, they saw added complexity to the questions we were asking about traditions, inheritance and heritage as their immigrant population continues to swell.  We went our separate ways after just a few days, looking for future ways to put our questions into practice.

Fast-forward to November 2012 and I find myself across from Joanne and Frans at the breakfast table in Holland.  We’re still heavy in conversation, but this time over toast with chocolate sprinkles and an impressive array of cheeses.  Our dream of a collaboration was made real with generous funding from both private and public Netherlands entities and we’re anxious to get started.

Joanne and Frans have envisioned a program to fully involve the children of Feijnoord (a small township in the city of Rotterdam) in a cultural story important to Holland: Sinterklaas and his carnival of animals.   I’m here to guide the creation of this story within a simplified Chinese shadow style, accessible for ages 5-14.   The children begin with shadow puppet design and creation, then rehearsal and finally a performance for the community.  By letting the children become apart of every step of the process, we believe that this will deepen the embodiment of the story and enrich the learning experience.

Of all the iterations of our workshops, the most exciting was working in Feijnoord’s private afterschool program with children ages 6-12.  The township of Feijnoord is a historically popular place for new immigrants with its low rent and convenient proximity to the city center.  Currently, 80% of the township’s population is non-Dutch, with most of the immigrants coming in from Turkey and Morocco.

The afterschool program is a rare hold over from decades past – their building awkwardly stuck right in between rows of traditional Dutch apartments.

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As the clock strikes three, dozens of kids speaking a myriad of languages stream into the waiting activities of the able-bodied volunteers.  This time, we’ve got shadow puppets for them.

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And while these puppets may not look anything like the puppets I’ve been researching for 4 years, they are inherently Chinese in design and engineering.  We’ve developed a simplified method of using permanent markers on clear plastic so that kids don’t have to spend five years mastering leather cutting before they can make a great shadow puppet.  The control rods and joint methods are all faithfully Chinese.  I wonder if all this newness will derail their energy – it doesn’t.  They don’t even hesitate – there is an appetite here.  They dive in, mistakes and all and create some of the most alive puppets I’ve seen yet.

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I’ve often been ‘warned’ about the ‘chaotic nature’ of such groups but I never find it to be thus.  Yes, they’re awfully loud and yes, it’s hard to keep them on track sometimes, yes.  But, truly, it’s only kids being kids in the best way possible – fully.  I’m much more disconcerted when I see children so well behaved that they’re afraid to color outside of the lines.   This paralytic fear of wrongness and failure are a much more serious problem.

I could go on and on here about the necessity of arts in a child’s development and how tests and data prove that the arts help children excel in all other fields but I won’t.  I’m just going to say that at its most fundamental level, the arts erase the right/wrong binary and encourage the infinite possibilities of everything.  I strongly believe that in the near future we’re going to need more creative and empathic thinkers than good chart readers.

After just an hour and a half of managing the chaos, the kids funnel out as fast as they funneled in and for a moment we are left in the loud silence.  I am exhausted but smiling.  It’s clear that these kids, with their unflinching ability to move forward – mistakes and all – are ready for anything.   And now, they have shadow puppetry in their arsenal.

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Joanne and Frans and I pack up, talk to the volunteers and smush into the van once more.  We head home for a supper of fresh Marrakech sausages from the nearby Moroccan butcher and some typical Dutch mashed potatoes and greens.  Over the fading daylight, we crowd closer and closer to the warm table lamps – preparing the next workshop’s materials and jotting down our thoughts.

They’ll continue rehearsing after I’m gone and prepare for a final performance by the kids, for the community.  The project comes full circle this way.  The shadow puppet revolution is closer than ever.

After a week or so of this routine, we catch ourselves – it seems as though I’ve been here all along, we’ve been friends all along, we’ve been doing this all along.  Weirder still is that this is a reoccurring feeling I get when connecting with fellow puppeteers around the globe.  As the web gets larger, the feeling gets more intimate.   I can’t wait to get back.

Thanks for reading~

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Party

Chinese Shadow Puppet-con

Never before have I thought about how wonderful it would be to go to something like Comic-con: a bunch of people, passionate about the same thing, there for the sole purpose of sharing and geeking-out.  Of course I had never considered the awesomeness of a thing like that because I never thought it possible that I would ever get to experience my own Chinese Shadow Puppet-con.

But I did, everyone!  It occurred and I was there!

The Ballard Institute of Puppetry and the University of Connecticut Puppetry program hosted a number of scholars, puppeteers and artmakers and enthusiasts to join in the conversation at the first ever North American Chinese Shadow Puppet Symposium, run in tandem with their Pauline Benton Chinese Shadow Figures exhibition running until December 16th. (PS: I’ll be blogging more on the awesomeness of Pauline Benton soon!)

I expected to be inspired by the talks that were given and inspired to give one myself on my recent fieldwork, but I was surprised by just how invigorating it was to be in the same room with these people.  Usually, we research, read and synthesize in isolation.  To bring these thoughts, feelings and concerns forth to a knowledgeable and equally passionate public was nothing less than finally feeling seen and heard.  No, you’re not crazy for dedicating so much time and energy to this, and Yes, it’s as fascinating and never-ending as you’ve been suspecting.

John Bell was such a warm host along with the rest of the BIMP staff; Fan Pen Chen gave us an amazing run-down of her current research of snake cults and the legend of Lady White Snake and its evolution as a common shadow puppet story; Mary E Hirsch mesmerized us with her incredibly astute work in correcting mis-identified Chinese shadow puppets in American collections; Stephen Kaplin and Kuang-Yu Fong gave us both a great tour of their co-curated exhibition and a sneak peak at their first attempt at a one man digital shadow puppet show (which was wholly engaging); Bradford Clark told us about his recent trips to China to experience puppetry; and many other short presentations rounded out the event.

I laughed, I cried, it was much better than Cats.

Next time, I hope you will join us.

Thanks for reading~

Pauline Benton holding up one of her figures.

Stephen Kaplin giving us a personalized tour of the exhibition

Some of Red Gate Players’ beautiful show programs

Pauline commissioned some ‘newer’ puppets that would reflect the Beijing she saw at the time, in the 1930s, which included cars!

The whole crew at Chinese Shadow Puppet-con!