04. April 2009

Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche

Royal Puppets from Myanmar The Mandalay Marionettes Theatre Myanmar

Puppet players: U Pan Aye (master/mandalay); U Sein Tun Kyi (master/yangon); U Than Nyunt; Daw Ma Ma Naing; Tun Tun Win; Maung Wai Myo
Dancers: May Ki Ki Tun; Moe Myint Soe;
musicians: U Hla Myaing (direction); Cho Mu  Win; U Aye Myint; U Maung Dwei; Ye Latt Oo;
Ko Thant Zaw Htat

Direction: Kyaw Myo Ko

Creatures of teak and strings, clothed in silk and velvet, transform into living beings. According to a legend from Myanmar puppets already danced before man did… During Passion Week they dance at the Krems Minorite Church on the stage of the world-famous puppet theatre Myanmar from Mandalay.

The puppet theatre was the first art form from Myanmar to be permitted on court stages. Apparently, the royal audience would tolerate being physically overtopped by puppets. Each puppet corresponds to one part of the human body. The most well-known of the 28 figures are the king, the prince, the princess, a giant, the oriental spout, a hunchback, a horse, an ape, a general, a yogi, a boy, and a girl, all surrounded by comedians.

The puppet players, the authors, the singers, musicians, tailors and craftsmen are all subject to a fixed ascetic set of rules which is applicable for every of the puppets’ and dancers’ gestures, for each musical tone, for the looks, character and garments of each single puppet. The rangy 80cm-sized figures have finger joints, double joints in their necks, chin and tongue joints, movable ankles and glass eyes. They are carved from softwood and put together by finely plaited plant pieces; they carry real hair on their heads and are put to life by up to 60 strings each.

Set in dream-like sceneries the puppets tell serious and jolly stories from the Buddha’s 500 lives. The puppets carry the stories: if the puppets disappear, memory fades with them. The knowledge carriers in puppet form talk to us through the delicacy of their gestures, their demeanor and the gracefulness of their movements. In their leaping and bounding dances, the characters of the puppets and of those controlling their strings merge; the energy fluxes of the puppet gone female and the female dancer flow into each other.
“Only when the art of the puppet player and the art of the musician and singer merge, it becomes magic”, say those who have cast a glance backstage. The traditional orchestra from Myanmar with instruments made of wood, metal and leather define the puppets’ movements. Drums, gongs, bamboo rattles, cymbals, bells, a harp, an oboe, and a flute are the tongues the puppets talk through, the whole music from Myanmar rooting in the singing about love and nature.

© Mandalay Marionettes Theatre

© Mandalay Marionettes Theatre