Vietnamese Water Puppetry To Go To Finland

The Central Vietnam Puppetry Theatre will take 16
traditional water puppetry items to Finland for the first time this autumn. At
the same time, 11 Vietnamese puppeteers will be trained in modern puppetry at
Finland’s Hevosenkeke Theatre. Kirsi Aropaltio, Art Director of Hevosenkeke
Theatre, talks about the event.
    How did you feel when you watched traditional water puppetry
items performed by Vietnamese artists? What will you say to Finnish audiences
about Vietnamese water puppetry?

    “I don’t know much about water puppetry, but after watching
several shows by the Central Vietnam Puppetry Theatre and talking with my
Vietnamese colleagues, I partly understand characteristics of this art. The
good of this art is the continuous transition among small items. Each item is a
message from the wet rice civilisation of Vietnam. The humour in the dialogue
of puppets and the way puppets perform themselves in the water environment
draws audiences from the beginning to the end”.
    From August 29 to September 2, 15 young Vietnamese water
puppet artists will perform at Espoo Culture Centre, Tapiola and Hevosenkenka
Theatre at the invitation of the Finnish Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr Pekka
    Hevosenkenka Theatre is famous around the world for “human puppets”
– puppets as big as humans.
    The Vietnamese delegation will present to international
friends their best performances like Uncle Teu, dragon dance, fishing, fighting
foxes and catching ducks.
    From August 25 to October 10, another 10 Vietnamese puppet
artists will fly to Finland to attend a training course and share experience
with Finnish colleagues.
    As scheduled, in November 2009, a Finnish puppet delegation
will also have an exchange course in Vietnam to explore the unique features of
puppets in general and water puppets in particular. The visits are a good
preparation for the second international puppet festival to be held in Vietnam
in 2010.
    What is the goal of your theatre in hosting Vietnamese

    “This is the first step in long-term cooperation between the
two theatres and the two countries in this special art field: water puppetry.
Our main target is to help Finnish children understand about the life and
culture and people of Vietnam. We will organise three shows a day. The morning
show will be for children and students. The afternoon show (2pm) will be for
audiences of any age and the evening show will be for the young”.
    “Dry puppetry develops strongly in Finland while it is still
new in Vietnam. What is your advice for Vietnam to further develop this art”?

    “I think each cultural exchange is an opportunity for
learning from each other. Perhaps after this trip our artists and Vietnamese
puppeteers will discover new things to enrich their puppetry items. Next year
we will send a water troupe to Vietnam to introduce our unique puppetry”.
    “What could help an audience to differentiate between Finnish
and Vietnamese dry puppetry”?

    “Finnish dry puppetry is mainly based on stories by famous
Finnish writers. If Vietnamese puppetry needs many puppeteers in an item, we
need only one artist and each puppetry item includes several scenes. Each scene
is very short and there is no interval between two scenes so puppeteers must
concentrate heavily on their work”.
    “So your puppeteers must be trained systematically”?
    “That’s right. Our puppeteers are trained methodically. They
study puppetry at university and they are further trained at our theatre. Each
puppeteer is not only a professional artist but also creates puppets to deliver
educational messages to viewers”.
    “Water puppetry is a strange art to Finnish audiences. Does
the Hevosenkeka Theatre plan to develop this kind of art”?

    “It is possible because we still have space for new projects.
There is also a chance that the 200,000 lakes in Finland can be used usefully
in the summer. However, we need enthusiastic cooperation from Vietnamese
colleagues. I hope this will be a first step in a breakthrough in the puppetry
of both nations”.


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