Inside every one of us is probably a little child that never wants to grow old. That child would forever appreciate things like ice cream, balloons and even puppets! It was a nice thing then that the China Overseas Exchange Association and Cebu Filipino-Chinese United Community brought in the famous puppeteers from Si Chuan Province, China last February 25, 2010 at Cinema 1, SM City Cebu.
The puppets we often see during fairs and on television shows are small ones usually held up by strings or worn on the hands of the puppeteers. But the puppets from Si Chuan province are those huge ones used mostly in theatrical performances which made the show even more entertaining. The program started around 7:00 in the evening with a traditional dragon dance and some speeches.
After the important people behind the event had taken their turn to speak, the real show began with the Puppet’s Calligraphy Art. Sure, we may have seen puppets dance and sing, but seeing them write is totally amazing. Propped up on a stick, a life size puppet, with the aid of its skilled puppeteer, wrote Chinese characters on a canvas.
A humorous opera called “Rolling Light” came next. Although most of the audience probably didn’t understand the dialogue because it was in Chinese, the gestures and the body language of the actors clearly delivered the message.
A long silk dance was also performed. A fairy was the puppet this time. It had a very long piece of silk draped around her sleeves, which flowed as the male puppeteer moved gracefully around the stage. It looked like the fairy was playing with the silk in a very carefree but elegant manner. The whole performance was some sort of a love story of a fairy (the puppet) and a mortal (the puppeteer). It ended when the mortal lowered the fairy, allowing their gazes to lock, which got a lot of “awws” from the audience.
Then finally the “Bian Lian”, which means “suddenly turn hostile”, was performed. This showed the magical and beautiful unique skill of the puppeteers from Si Chuan Province.
In just a matter of seconds, they could change masks or faces without the use of the hands. This performance gathered loud applause from the audience.
It was a magnificent night of puppetry which made both children and adults smile from their hearts. (Rea Mae M. Olaran)