Chinese Shadow Puppet Workshop Provides Insight into UNESCO Recognized Art Forms
If you are looking to get into the spirit of the Lunar New Year, Gateway Theater offers something that departs from the feast of Asian cuisine.
Artist Annie Katsura Rollins is leading Chinese shadow puppet workshops on Zoom on February 15 (sold out) and February 21.
This folk art form originated during the Han Dynasty, which ruled China from 202 BC to 220 AD.
UNESCO’s intergovernmental committee includes Chinese shadow puppets on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
“Chinese puppets are a form of theater performed by colorful figures made of leather or paper, accompanied by music and song,” the UNESCO committee said in its 2011 decision. “Manipulated by puppeteers at the Using chopsticks, the characters create the illusion of moving images on a translucent fabric screen lit from behind.
“Many older shadow puppet artists can perform dozens of traditional plays, which are passed down orally or found in written form.”
Not only that, but they mastered techniques “such as improvisational singing, falsetto, simultaneous handling of multiple puppets, and the ability to play various musical instruments.”
In the next Gateway Theater workshops, participants will learn about the history of the Chinese shadow puppet, as well as how the characters are created.
Additionally, the February 21 workshop will include a Mandarin translation for anyone hoping to hear about this art form in the dominant language in China.
“Shadow plays are performed by large troupes of seven to nine performers and smaller troupes of only two to five, primarily for entertainment or religious rituals, weddings and funerals and other special occasions,” said the UNESCO committee. âSome puppeteers are professionals, while others are amateurs who perform during slack agricultural seasons.
âRelevant skills are passed on within families, troops and from teacher to student,â he continues. âThe Chinese puppet also conveys information such as cultural history, social beliefs, oral traditions and local customs. It disseminates knowledge, promotes cultural values ââand entertains the community, especially young people.