The 35th ASEAN Summit is being held in Bangkok during the first week of November, and whilst plenty can be expected from the conference, there’s another colourful reason to look forward to the event.

To welcome state leaders and delegates, but also to celebrate ‘The Cultural Year of Asian 2019’, Siam Paragon is hosting an exclusive showcase of puppetry, hailing from an impressive 13 countries from around the world. A must-see for those with a love for the arts and a curiosity for the heritage of this traditional and cultural treasure.

[All images courtesy of Siam Piwat]

The showcase will be launched by Culture Minister Ittipol Khunpluen on 31 October at 4pm, after which ‘Siam Paragon World Fascinating Puppets’ will officially be open to all guests for a series of performances, exhibitions, and workshops spanning four days. Here’s what you can expect.

Heritage

In first line, the puppetry arts are a traditional entertainment medium, and thereby a celebration of heritage. Visitors can expect everything from the impressive Cambodian Sbek Toch ancient shadow theatre, over to the Indian human puppet dancers from Rajasthan. Japan will be presenting a series of Joruri puppet shows, including dancing Ninin Sanbanso figures, whilst Myanmar will showcase their beautiful string puppets, known as Yoke Thay.

As host, and as a country that has long honoured the puppetry tradition, Thailand will be showcasing its traditional Nang Yai shadow puppets, playing out the ‘Yok Rob’ episode from the Ramayana, and the Thai literary work known as ‘Phra Aphai Mani.’

Performance Arts

Embracing the art of visual story-telling, over in the South Korea section, guests can revel in the magic of Kkachidong Theatre Company’s ‘Red Bean Soup Grandma’ performance, whilst those with a flair more for the modern, can enjoy the award-winning Fusion Wayang Kulit show from Malaysia. The latter features puppets that were inspired by Star Wars, no less.

Siam Paragon Fascinating Puppets

Contemporary Forms

Whilst Puppetry is an art form that goes back to ancient times, this does not mean it cannot embrace the present. Adapting to the rising trend (and need) for sustainability, head to the Laotian zone to explore the contemporary Hun Kanbong puppets, made from recycled materials.

Siam Paragon Fascinating Puppets

Entertainment for all ages

Whilst there is plenty of deeper art and culture for adults to explore and appreciate, there’s no denying that the core beauty of puppetry lies in its entertainment value. If you’ve got kids, definitely take them to a performance by Fox Fables from the United States. Together with a show from the Vietnam Puppetry Theatre, they will be presenting a traditional European-style hand puppet show.

A New Zealand puppet company will also be putting on a ‘Penguin and Snowman’ performance, whilst the Lunar Marionette Show from the Philippines includes both singing and dancing marionettes.

Siam Paragon Fascinating Puppets

Workshops

For those who looking to get involved in all the action, Siam Paragon World Fascinating Puppets will also be hosting a series of workshops. The Singaporean zone aims to teach unique traditional puppetry story-telling, using the adventure of the Chinese folktale ‘Monk Xuanjuang’ as an example.

Get crafty with it over at the Malaysian section, where guests can even make a souvenir to take home. Whether you’re looking to make a Thai string puppet, an American hand puppet, an Indian marionettes, or a recycled Laotian puppet, there’s plenty to get creative with. More of an actor than an artist? Pick up a skill for character voicing at the Filipino puppetry workshop.

Siam Paragon Fascinating Puppets

Weekend plans? It’s time to get theatrical with it. Find the full schedule below:

31 October 2019: Workshops & Demonstrations

1pm: Make a Chi Wawa Marionette (Thailand)
1pm: Puppet-making Experience (Malaysia)
1pm: Cowhide Souvenir-making (Thailand)
1.30pm: Shadow Puppet Demonstration (Cambodia)
3.30pm: String Puppet Workshop (Thailand)
4.30pm: Hand Puppet Workshop (USA)
5.30pm: Puppet Character Voice Workshop (Philippines)

31 October 2019: Shows

3pm: Myanmar Traditional String Puppet Dance Variety (Myanmar)
4pm: Opening Ceremony for Siam Paragon Fascinating Puppets
5pm: ‘The Sound My Home’ (Laos)
7pm: ‘Sanbanso Dance’ and ‘A Girl in Fiery Love’ (Japan)

1 November 2019: Workshops & Demonstrations

1.30pm: Puppet from Recyclable Materials Workshop (Laos)
2pm: Chinese Teochew Metal Rod Puppet Demonstration (Singapore)
2.30pm: Puppet-making and Manipulation (Myanmar)
3.30pm: Simple String Puppet Worm (New Zealand)
3.30pm: Joruri Puppet Demonstration (Japan)
4.30pm: Rajasthani String Puppet-making (India)
5.30pm: Hand Puppet Workshop (USA)
5.30pm: Professional Exchange (Vietnam)

1 November 2019: Shows

1pm: Ramayana and Prah Aphai Mani (The Giantess’s Revenge) Large Shadow Puppet (Thailand)
2pm: ‘Star Wars inspired Wayang Kulit’ (Malaysia)
3pm: ‘The Farmers and the Lord’ (Cambodia)
5pm: Marionettes and Ventriloquist Puppet Performance (Malaysia)
7pm: ‘Red Bean Soup Grandma’ (South Korea)

2 November 2019: Workshops & Demonstrations

1pm: Making a Chi Wawa Marionette (Thailand)
1.30pm: Puppet from Recyclable Materials Workshop (Laos)
2.30pm: Chinese Teochew Metal Rod Puppet Demonstration (Singapore)
2.30pm: Puppet-making and Manipulation (Myanmar)
3.30pm: Hanji Puppet-making using Korean Paper (South Korea)
3.30pm: Joruri Puppet Demonstration (Japan)
4.30pm: Simple String Puppet Worm (New Zealand)
5.30pm: Professional Exchange (Vietnam)

2 November 2019: Shows

1pm: ‘Penguin and Snowman’ (New Zealand)
2pm: ‘Star Wars inspired Wayang Kulit’ (Malaysia)
3pm: Hand and String Puppet Performance (Philippines)
5pm: ‘Fox Fables’ (USA)
5pm: ‘The Human Puppets Dance’ and ‘The Traditional Rajasthani Puppets’ (India)
7.30pm: Ramayana and Prah Aphai Mani (The Giantess’s Revenge) Large Shadow Puppet (Thailand)

3 November 2019: Workshops & Demonstrations

1pm: Making a Chi Wawa Marionette (Thailand)
2.30pm: Puppet-Making (Malaysia)
3.30pm: Hanji Puppet-making using Korean Paper (South Korea)
4.30pm: Rajasthani String Puppet-making (India)
5.30pm: Hand Puppet Manipulation and Voicing (Philippines)
5.30pm: Shadow Puppet Demonstration (Cambodia)

3 November 2019: Shows

1pm: ‘The Portrait Painter’ (New Zealand)
2pm: ‘Fox Fables’ (USA)
3pm: ‘Web of Deceit’ (Singapore)
5pm: Myanmar Traditional String Puppet Dance Variety (Myanmar)
7pm: ‘Vietnam – Country Soul’ (Vietnam)

 

Experience ‘Siam Paragon World Fascinating Puppets’ from 31 October to 3 November 2019 at Fashion Hall, 1/F, Siam Paragon, 991 1 Rama I Rd., Pathum Wan, Bangkok; +66 2610 8000.

Lisa Gries
Managing Editor, Bangkok
Lisa loves to travel, and is always on the lookout for the world’s best nap spots. She’s a serious Asian art history nerd, and has a knack for languages and coffee table books. She hopes to publish her own novels one day, one of which will likely be called ‘All The Great Conversations I Had In A Bangkok Speakeasy.’ It’s a work in progress.