Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi offers insightful perspectives into the cultural richness of the country. The origins of the Thang Long Water Puppetry can be traced to over thousand years in the Red River Delta. Water puppetry or Mua roi nuoc as it was known in North Vietnam was performed on the rice fields of and surface of ponds of the River Delta. Water has been in abundant supply in North Vietnam. But as agriculture is not a popular practice here, farmers introducing this art form to entertain themselves and their children. The theater was introduced to celebrate the end of rice harvests, characterize religious festivals and later to entertain the royal court.
The art form started with scenes depicting the everyday life of villagers such as farming, fishing, romance and children’s activities. In recent times, the plays showcase scenes from ancient fables, myths, legends and historic ages. A brutal war against the Vietnamese did much damage to this art form, but today it has stood the test of time and continues to attract much admiration. The various art festivals have helped Thang Long Water Puppetry reach major countries of the world like Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Thailand, Spain, Portugal, Hongkong and Denmark. This theatre for has fostered a cultural exchange of various countries across the globe.
Features of Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi:
-Â Â This unique art form has a stage made of rice paddy, river or pond.
-Â Â The marionettes are moved skillfully across the water’s surface with the help of underwater poles, rods and strings. Two or more people are required for heavy and complex puppets.
-Â Â The puppets dance, dive, glide and swim across the stage along with traditional Vietnamese music being played befitting the mood of the play.
-Â Â Bamboo flutes, Bronze drums, gongs, xylophones sets the stage for the play.
-Â Â Ducks, snakes, dragons and monkey puppets dance, dive and swim under the surface of the water. The audience is transported to a world of fishermen and villagers, of knights and beautiful princesses, of water buffalo, fish, frogs, unicorns, lions and magic turtles.
-Â Â The audience experiences this amazing spectacle on a raft, pagoda and some other floating structure.
-Â Â Some of the most fascinating performances include Dance of the Dragons, Triumphant Return, Legend of the Restored Sword and Dance of the Fairies.
-Â Â The most captivating of the rural life scenes depict Catching Frogs, Fox Stealing Ducks and On a Buffalo with a Flute.