July 14, 2010

VIETNAM DIARIES: Water Puppet Show

They say that it’s borderline criminal not to try the Vietnamese Iced Coffee whenever in Vietnam, the same goes for not watching the Vietnamese Water Puppet Show.
 
Water Puppetry has been an old Vietnamese tradition that started in the 11th century. It is a part of their heritage that showcases Vietnam’s history and the traditional cultural life of Vietnamese people.


I’m not really fond of puppets, in fact, I dread the sight of them and when they start to speak in that freaky-childlike tone, my feet starts to race the exit door before my butt could even get up the seat.  But since we had nothing else to do that night, we decided to check it out.

We booked the tickets at our hotel for 80,000VND per person, show times are at 6:30pm and 8:00pm, we choose the latter as we wanted to grab dinner first before seeing the show.

After dinner, we took the cab to the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater or better known as the Rong Vang to locals located at #55 Nguyen Thi Minh Kai, District 1.

Slacking on my way to the seat allocated for us, I noticed that the theater was half-full already which was a good sign. The puppets might not be that creepy after all.

We were seated near the fire exit
The show was 50minutes long with n0 intermission and consisted of 17 acts. It started with a music prelude followed by the 1st act which was the called the Raising of the Festival Flag and lasted about a minute and a half. The puppets were accompanied with live music and voices instead of just recordings and you can actually see them and their local instruments seated beside the dry area of the stage.

 


The show was easy to understand, never mind that it was in Vietnamese the whole time, at least they gave out pamphlets with English translations on it.  From the prelude to the dragon dance, fishing, the lion dance, with children playing in the water, boat racing and unicorns, you learn a little something about their culture and daily life.



To my surprise, I was actually enjoying myself and it wasn’t even half way through the show yet, it was just the 1st act.

Of the 17 acts, the one that stood out the most for me was the Fairy Dance (act 16) those puppets were too damn graceful!


The show ended with the skilled puppeteers taking a bow before their happy and amazed audience.

 

written by KIM

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