Puppets that will leave you in stitches
They might be pint-sized actors, but don’t underestimate the puppets starring in Paper Monkey Theatre’s upcoming production, Romance of Mistakes.
The Mandarin musical comedy, adapted from a classic Beijing opera, will see the puppeteers skilfully manoeuvre the cast of 40 puppets with rods and bring them to life using nuanced gestures and songs sung across a range of styles, from rock to pop.
The puppets were painstakingly crafted by Hsu Chien-Jhang, a puppetry maestro in Taiwan. They sport dreamy facial features that recall manga characters, and they are dressed in elaborate costumes specially designed for this show.
The production’s attention to detail reflects the homegrown theatre company’s commitment to inspire a love for Asian performing arts and culture among young audiences.
Since its formation in 2008, the company has focused on presenting child- and family-friendly shows and workshops based on Asian stories and traditional puppetry. It does so, however, with a contemporary take, to make the classics more relevant to audiences today.
Paper Monkey Theatre’s artistic director Benjamin Ho is committed to inspiring a love for Asian puppetry, arts and culture among young audiences. (Photo: Claudio Chock)
The company’s artistic director Benjamin Ho says there have been naysayers along the way, who dismiss the need to stage sumptuous puppet shows for children. His reply to them: “Children are not stupid, they can tell a good production from a bad one.”
Efforts by the company to nurture a young audience have paid off – it celebrates its 10th anniversary with the upcoming production of Romance of Mistakes.
This is the second time that the company is presenting Romance of Mistakes. It premiered the musical about mistaken identities and misrepresented love at its fifth anniversary. Restaging the production at its 10-year mark, with more exquisite puppets and actors rigorously trained in singing, points to how far it has come.
Ho says: “We didn’t expect to last 10 years. For our next phase, we hope to look at highlighting other forms of Asian puppetry and working with other Asian puppeteers to expand our repertoire and hone our craft.”
Details on Romance of Mistakes here.