The following “Water Puppet Show Performance at Thang Long Theatre, Vietnam. Part 1”, published Apr 6, 2014 on Youtube, is definitely a first class performance, when you consider the difficult level of precision and coordination required to overcome the ebb and flow of the water – all very captivating!
There are 3 parts to this performance on Youtube.
On our very last day of travel in Vietnam we decided to watch a Water Puppet Show (known locally as Múa rối nước) at Thang Long Theatre in Hanoi, Vietnam… Water puppetry literally refers to puppets that dance on water which is a traditional Vietnamese art that dates back to the eleventh century in northern sections of Vietnam. Water Puppet Performances take place in various locations throughout the country; however, Hanoi has a reputation for being the ‘it’ place to take in the experience.
Puppeteers are concealed behind a screen in waist deep water wielding puppets that are made out of wood and then lacquered. Large rods and strings are used by the puppeteers to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.
The performances are centered chiefly around Vietnamese Folklore with emphasis on traditional ways of life, spirituality, and day to day existence that was passed on from one generation to another; it literally amazes me to think that this performance art form dates back so many years.
The puppets are accompanied by a traditional Vietnamese orchestra that provides background music including the use of bells, cymbals, gongs and flutes. In my opinion, the music is as much an appealing part of the show as the performance itself. Although I’ve listened to traditional Vietnamese folk music being played while touring the Mekong Delta, I felt the skill level from these musicians put them in a league of their own…
Water puppetry (Vietnamese: Múa rối nước, lit. “puppets that dance on water”) is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today’s Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.
Múa rối nước is considered to have originated in the delta of the Red river in Vietnam in the 11th century, and the art remains highly developed today in this country. Some of the earliest troupes were found in the Nguyên Xá commune, Đông Hưng district, Thai Binh province.
In ancient Vietnam, the rural Vietnamese believed that spirits controlled all aspect of their lives, from the kitchen to the rice paddies. The Vietnamese devised water puppetry as a way to satisfy these spirits, and as a form of entertainment, using what natural medium they could find in their environment. In ancient times, the ponds and flooded rice paddies after harvest were the stage for these impromptu shows.
This top-notch performance video is certainly worth sharing!!!