No Strings Attached: Puppet Festival returns to MOA

UBC's Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is pleased to present the return of the playful and insightful Taiwanese Puppet Festival, starting from November 3-8, 2016. This year two puppetry ensembles, The Happy Puppetry Company and Puppet & Its Double Theater, will share their traditional and contemporary approaches to puppet theatre. The festival includes two days of public performances as well as a cultural exchange with First Nations artist Connie Watts.

It is a feature event in Spotlight Taiwan exploring Taiwanese culture through performing arts, cultural representatives, visual arts and the heritage of Taiwan.

"MOA's first puppet festival was an immense success with students and the public alike and fostered a deeper appreciation and understanding of Taiwanese culture and its rich history," explains Jill Baird, MOA Curator of Education. "We wanted to bring it back because the culture enrichment it offers welcomes internationally-celebrated artists who will showcase the beauty of these handcrafted puppets, the skills of the puppeteers, and the types of universal stories that they are able to tell.”

Ko Chiang, Managing and Artistic Director of The Happy Puppetry Company, is one of Taiwan's leading female puppeteers. For more than 49 years, Chiang has spearheaded this award-winning ensemble specializing in Taiwanese glove puppet theatre that has been handed down for over three generations. The company will perform two classic Taiwanese tales, The Monkey King and The Love Story, with its colourful cast of legendary warriors, spirits, and demons.

Another performance in this festival is Taiwan's Puppet & Its Double Theater. The company offers a contemporary approach to puppetry, led by Artistic Director, Chia-yin Cheng.  Inspired by experimental theatre, Puppet and Its Double Theater will use life-sized body puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets, and animated objects in its unique storytelling method. The puppet-actor combination will stage a production of Mr. Ruraru, a non-verbal story highlighting themes of growing up and our relationship to the natural world. The Taiwanese Puppet Festival will close November 6 at 3pm with a collaborative performance fusing the puppeteers' skills with First Nations visual artist Connie Watts.

School Performances, Workshop & Self-Guided Tour:

Alongside public performances, the visiting puppeteers will give special school shows on November 3, 4, 7 & 8.  Finally, MOA visitors are invited to participate in a self-guided puppet tour, which will include an extensive collection of fascinating puppets from around the world, including Javanese rod puppets, Chinese shadow puppets, Sinhalese marionettes, and much more.

Full Festival Lineup:

Public Performances 

All public programs are free with MOA admission.

November 3, 4, [email protected] 10am & 12:30pm

Puppet & Its Double Theater School Shows will be holding 40-minute performances that will feature a unique and contemporary puppetry play as well as a behind the scenes look at the stage open to elementary and secondary school students.

November 5 & 6, 2016 11am - 12:00pm

Puppet & Its Double Theater will perform Mr. Ruraru.

November 5 & 6, 2016 12:15pm - 1:15pm

Happy Puppetry Company will perform The Monkey King and The Love Story.

November 6, 2016

Cultural Exchange where visiting Taiwanese puppeteers will spend two days in workshops with First Nation artist Connie Watts. They will perform an experimental work that arises from this collaborative experience, followed by an open reception for all attendees and museum visitors at 4pm.

November 7, 8, 2016 @ 10am & 12:30pm

The Happy Puppetry Company School Shows will be holding 40-minute performances that will feature traditional Taiwanese glove puppetry play as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the puppet stage open to elementary and secondary school students.

*the school shows are $10 per student, includes museum admission

More information about the festival can be found here.