A New Lease of Life for Traditional Puppet Theatre

By Soon-Tzu Speechley

February 2016 FEATURE
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Learning Potehi puppet manipulation from Madame Ooi See Han of the Beng Geok Hong Puppet Theatre Troupe.
Across Asia, traditional performing arts struggle to survive. But some troupes have found new relevance – and therefore new audiences.In a lean-to wedged between a temple and a cafe, the audience sits on plastic chairs, waiting. Plucked strings and wooden clappers ring out against the falling rain. Gradually, a cast of colourful characters emerges from behind the cardboard screen: doting parents with their beautiful daughter, the lecherous man who spots the beauty at the market, a brilliant young scholar who...

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Soon-Tzu Speechley

studied History and Asian Studies at the University of Melbourne. He now works at the Architectural Conservation Lab at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). His writing has appeared in a number of publications in Malaysia and Australia. He tweets @ speechleyish.