TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The 2017 Yunlin International Puppet Theater Festival will be held in the county's Huwei Township from Oct. 7-14, reported CNA.
Running since 1999, this year's festival will feature 123 domestic and international puppet performances. Among the performances will include works by Taiwan's renown glove puppetry, or Budaixi (布袋戲) masters Chung Jen-pi (鍾任壁) and Chen Hsi-huang (陳錫煌), who both demonstrated their skills at the press conference for the event. Chen wowed the crowd by making the hand movements of a puppet waving a miniature fan seem incredibly lifelike.
In an interview with CNA, Chen said,
"When I went overseas to perform, even though audiences would not understand our narration, but the skills are something everyone can understand. For me, these puppets are not just dolls, they are people. At night when I can't sleep, I take them out and look at them. There are good looking techniques for all of them to walk, turn around, or raise their hands."
Chang Hui-chun (張惠君), Director of Art Development under the Ministry of Culture said she was amazed with the map of glove puppetry troupes in the county, "Yunlin has 20 villages and towns, but there are 102 glove puppetry troupes!" She said that as glove puppetry has evolved from temple shows to TV, and later into theater, there have been many innovative revolutions and international exchanges, "to make it become a representative of Taiwan's cultural brand, But also a symbol of the humanistic spirit of the Taiwanese people."
Famous glove puppet masters Chen Hsi-huang (left) and Chung Jen-pi (right). (CNA image)
Taiwanese glove puppetry is a form of Chinese opera using puppets that started in Fujian Province and was brought to Taiwan in the early 1600s. Traditional shows can still be seen in traditional traveling trucks that tour the country. The Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum (台原亞洲偶戲博物館) in Taipei's Datong District is a good place to both see a wide variety of antique puppets as well as live glove puppet shows.
A much larger, more lifelike version of the glove-puppets has evolved over the past 30 years and can now be seen on kung fu action TV shows which incorporate spectacular special effects. These modern puppets can be seen in action at the Dadaocheng Theater (大稻埕戲苑), located on the 8th and 9th floors of the Yongle Market.
Young boy admiring glove puppets. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau)
Yunlin Agricultural Expo Ecological Park, Jiancheng Rd., Yunlin County, Huwei Township