Living, Dying and Playing with One's Hands
Date: 9 April, Saturday
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Venue: Centre 42
Admission: Free (please register as seating is limited)
Living heritage, dying traditions - the language that surrounds traditional art forms is often weighted by questions of legacy, the urgency of preservation, and the uncertain future that lies ahead. But there is also the lightness of play, the curiosity in experimentation, and the joy of falling in love with the art form all over again.
Join us in this forum on 9 April as we situate the discussion of traditional Chinese hand puppetry in Singapore through the lives and journeys of its practitioners past and present. Learn about the prolific puppeteer Lee Chye Ee who migrated to Singapore in 1947 and the golden era of street puppetry in the 1950s through Tan Beng Luan's sharing about her encounter with the late puppet master. Beng Luan had interviewed the puppet master in 1988 for the oral history archives and later introduced him to Kuo Pao Kun, leading to the production of the seminal 'Lao Jiu'. Benjamin Ho, now the artistic director of Paper Monkey, recounts his experience in the re-staging of 'Lao Jiu' by TheatreWorks in 1993 where he worked closely with Lee Geok Eng, the daughter of Lee Chye Ee. Meanwhile, Tan Beng Tian leaves for Quanzhou in 1994 training under the tutelage of the fourth-generation puppet master Li Bofen. Master Li Bofen, and his son Li Yi Hsin, would later train a new generation of puppeteers in Singapore. We will also be joined by Carol Chia whose intensive research in traditional Chinese puppetry in the region will offer some context about street puppetry in Singapore today and the challenges they face with younger generations of practitioners.
As we unravel this complex web of entangled lives, participants will also enjoy this rare opportunity to encounter old footage and photographs that help piece together the evolving practice of Chinese hand puppetry and the re-discovery of this collective heritage.