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Puppets of Myanmar

 

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“Some say that the culture behind traditional Burmese puppets has been around for thousands of years, perhaps since the 11th century, but I’m not certain.” says Mr. Khin Maung Htwe, owner of the Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppetry Home. “Although I’m sure that it originated from over 600 years of ancient culture; we have discovered that wooden puppets were a major form of entertainment for Burmese royals ever since the 15th century. During the period of colonialism, this art migrated along the Irrawaddy River, before settling amongst the local community.”


有人说缅甸木偶文化自11世纪起,已有上千年的历史。我不确定这个一千年的说法,但我肯定它是已超过六百年的古老文化,在15世纪,它是专门作为皇家贵族的娱乐后来在殖民期间,木偶文化沿着伊洛瓦底江迁徙,最后在三角洲地区安顿下来…… ” Khin Maung Htwe先生娓娓道来,他是位于仰光Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppetry Home的木偶剧团负责人。

As with the rest of the world, cultures and old traditions are slowly fading into the background within contemporary Myanmar. However, Khin Maung Htwe remains adamant in upholding this piece of Burmese heritage, by performing alongside his family-run puppet troupe at Htwee Oo Myanmar Puppetry Home. Each puppeteer, which includes Khin Maung Htwe’s own wife and daughter, uses all ten fingers to intricately animate wooden marionettes with every pull, twist, swing, whirl and shake. There are 28 main characters in traditional Burmese puppet shows, ranging from gods, animals, monsters and royals. Traditional Burmese puppets are carved, polished, sanded and painted, before they are dressed in hand-stitched costumes; the entire process requires around twenty days of production from start to finish. Strings are also attached to every joint, including the puppet’s eyebrows in order to allow for more flexibility during each performance.


与世界各地一样,缅甸的传统文化也面临着改变和消失,但仍然有像Khin Maung Htwe先生这样热爱木偶文化的人坚持将其传承。Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppetry Home是半家族式的剧团,Khin Maung Htwe先生的女儿与太太也是木偶表演者。传统的木偶角色有神、动物、妖怪和帝王将相等28种。木偶戏剧表演艺人通过十个指头,让这些本来无魂的木偶,通过线牵艺人巧妙的运用提、拔、勾、挑、扭、抡、闪、摇等技巧,顿时有了生命一般。做到如此这般,也得益于缅甸木偶复杂精细的制作工艺。一个木偶的制作周期通常为20天,需要经过四、五道程序。从雕刻、加工、刨光,到贴金、上漆、打磨、上色、修整,从头部到身体各处13个关节,再逐一用线将上肢、下肢、腰部、颈部、手掌、甚至眉毛等串起来……此外,木偶身上的服装也都由手工艺人一针一线缝制。这样,一个木偶才拥有了神灵具备的可能性。

Unlike most performing arts, language barriers don’t exist and do not hinder the audience’s enjoyment and connection with the puppet show, and in turn, this has preserved the art form for centuries. Previously, it was even possible for a single puppeteer to control 60 strings at one time; however, this is a skill that has been lost over the years. Modern-day puppeteers usually learn to control at least 12 puppet strings.


木偶戏没有语言的沟通障碍,它生动的肢体表演也是可以流传几百年的原因。据说木偶艺人最多可以同时操控60根线,但这种技能已经失传。而现在的木偶艺人至少也要学会控制12根线,才能让木偶活灵活现起来。

Despite the increasing rarity of traditional Burmese puppetry, there are still some prominent figures within the community who are determined to keep the art form alive. We also encountered a puppet theatre group at Nanda Restaurant in Bagan, whose elderly leader was proudly passing down the art form to his grandchildren. He describes traditional Burmese puppetry as being like a performance from the soul, which is evident as he seamlessly guides and controls his puppets across the stage with both eyes completely transfixed. Building up to the climax, the veteran puppeteer twists the puppet in a 360 degree spin before catching the puppet on his shoulders, all in one continuous motion. Deeply focused on his craft, he has the expression of someone who is simply full of dedication and reverence for this ancient art form.


这传统文化虽日趋衰落,但在缅甸各地仍有坚守的艺人。同样在蒲甘Nanda餐厅里,我们遇到了一班木偶剧团,其中一位最长者将这门艺术骄傲地传给了自己的孙辈。这是一种通过心灵来表演的艺术,那位年长的艺人不断变动手中的架子,目光完全倾注于木偶身上。随着剧情进入高潮,他也从挪着小碎步一路平移,到360度连番转身,最后将木偶稳稳落于自己肩头,整个动作一气呵成。这无不体现着艺者的精湛技艺,而他的眼神始终透着对这门古老艺术的执着与敬仰。

With every passing scene, the puppeteers bring each character’s personality to stage. Storylines are derived from a variety of plot lines that range from ancient myths and legends, infused with a great deal of humor, folklore and everyday life. Singing artists further bring these expressionless puppets to life; their vocals give personality to the characters and heighten the atmosphere, creating a more unified and enchanting performance.


随着一节节肢体被注入生命,在提线的牵引下,整具木偶陡然间具有了灵性。传统木偶戏的内容多以动作性、故事性取胜的古代神话传说为主;到后来,随着木偶形象的日趋鲜活日常,情节开始渗入民间的风趣诙谐。木偶戏的演出格外注重声形合一,这些没有表情的木偶,其喜怒哀乐都只有通过艺人的演唱来表达,再以配乐作为场景气氛烘托。

While there are now no more than a dozen independent puppeteer groups left in Myanmar, it remains highly regarded as a unique art form that is heavily steeped in the country’s rich, traditional culture.


现在的缅甸,可以独立进行木偶表演的老艺人,只有十多个了。木偶戏不再仅仅是娱乐,它也是以更高的艺术形式在表现缅甸的整个传统历史文化。

Website: htweoomyanmar.com
Facebook
: ~/htweoomyanmarpuppetryhome

 

Contributor & Photographer: Chan Qu
Videographers: Chan Qu, Leon Yan


网站: htweoomyanmar.com
脸书
: ~/htweoomyanmarpuppetryhome

 

供稿人与图片摄影师: Chan Qu
视频摄影师: Chan Qu, Leon Yan

Papa’s Time Machine

Papa’s Time Machine is a theatrical performance that just recently ended last month at Shanghai’s Daning Theatre. The play is a poetically orchestrated and uniquely fantastical project created by Chinese visual artist Maleonn. Both real people and puppets share the same stage throughout the performance. For this project, Maleonn employed techniques that are commonly seen in contemporary video art and installation art; by combining these techniques with his alternative storytelling approaches and live music, Maleonn has created an innovative and playful project that expands the notion of puppetry. He has pushed the boundaries of puppet theatre, and in the process, transformed the dying art form into a compelling and contemporary performance piece.


近期在大宁剧院上演的这部风格奇幻、充满诗意的非传统戏剧《爸爸的时光机》,是视觉艺术家马良的首次戏剧游戏。它结合了独创的“演员与木偶平行表演”的舞台表现,运用当代艺术中的装置及影像手段,配以现场音乐演奏等多元化的表现形式,彻底颠覆了观众对于木偶剧的一贯认知。

The concept for Papa’s Time Machine originated in an unlikely location – a swimming pool. One day, Maleonn’s father repeatedly asked him, “Do you know how to swim?” over and over again. Maleonn humored his father and swam every time the question was asked. His father’s declining memory was becoming more and more apparent around this time. The gradually worsening condition of his father became the very foundation of Papa’s Time Machine. In the play, the main character Makugee’s father also suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Being a brilliant scientist, Makugee constructs a time machine so that his father could relive some of their happiest memories together. Every instance of time travel in the play was presented as a beautiful and nostalgic journey. The entire play seems to be an affirmation of life and memories. It imparts a sincere message about the inevitably of passing time and how people must bid farewell to one another at some point. But at the same time, saying goodbye doesn’t break the continuous nature of people’s love and affection for one another.


其实,最初创作《爸爸的时光机》的念头始于某次的泳池边,马良的父亲反复问“你会游泳吗”,而马良一次次地游给父亲看,这一来一去触发了马良对于父亲记忆退化的审视,从而诞生了现在这个故事:讲述了科学家马古几发现自己年迈父亲逐渐失去记忆,因而创造了一台时光机试图帮助父亲重拾美好回忆。剧中的每一次穿梭都是一次奇幻历程,也是对生命和记忆的再次确认,虽时光流逝不可避免,人与人之间终要告别,但这一看似哀伤的告别实则是爱与亲情的延续。

This entire play is meant to be a gift from Maleonn to his father. Maleonn’s family worked in theatre, and his parents had hopes of him becoming a theatre worker. But instead, he paved his own path and went on to pursue his personal interest in creativity and art. Over the years, Maleonn had mentioned working together with his father to create a collaborative theatrical performance several times. But as his father aged, that idea became less and less likely. In 2014, with the support of producer Wang Kaili, Maleonn began to piece together this ambitious project.


这是一部艺术家送给父亲的礼物。出生戏剧世家的马良自幼被父母期许成为一名戏剧工作者,但个人执意走了美术的创作道路。曾与家人笑谈“未来和父亲合作戏剧作品”,但这个愿望也随着父亲的衰老逐渐远去。于是马良在2014年初,在出品人王凯丽的支持下,开始了这个木偶戏剧的创作。

Having never dealt with puppets or created plays before, he worked closely with the production team to fulfill his creative vision. With his keen artistic sense and unrestrained imagination, the entire play came together in a little over two years. Maleonn and the production team created a dozen life-sized puppets; each of these elaborately designed puppets consisted of over 1,200 components to put together. The play’s four main characters are mechanical puppets: Makugee as a child and his middle-aged father, and Makugee as an adult and his elderly father. These mechanical puppets were able to perform a variety of basic movements, and to some extent, perform more complex choreographed movements. Through the team’s meticulous design and engineering, the puppets are dextrous enough to grab ahold of objects and even precisely point. The uniquely designed system they use to control each puppet is state-of-the-art when it comes to puppetry.


从未涉足舞台和木偶的马良在创作过程中,与团队共同揣摩,以敏锐的艺术感受与天马行空的想象力,耗时两年多,带领团队制作出了数十件真人等比大型木偶,每个木偶由1200多个零件组成。全剧中共设有4个主角机甲木偶,分别是小马古几与爸爸、中年马古几与老年爸爸。每个机甲木偶除了正常行走、舞蹈等肢体动作外,设计上更是细致到如手指可抓取物件、灵活指点方向等。其独创的木偶操控体系已是世界一流的操控水平。

“I’ve actually always enjoyed doing tedious and time-consuming tasks. I don’t like shortcuts, and I don’t like complacency. I admit that I’m not deep or an especially intelligent person, and I’m willing to devote my time and passion to do stupid things,” says Maleonn. “I respect those who are able to repeatedly draw tens of thousands of lines on a canvas – I think they’re better people than those who only have a concept and are unable to execute it. Some people try to give cleverly vague answers, but aren’t able to provide any concrete solutions. In my opinion, the only reason that any romance still exists in this heartless world is because of passionate fools.”


“我天生就喜欢做繁琐费力的事情,不喜欢捷径,也不喜欢安定。愿意承认自己是不深刻也不够智慧的人,也愿意付出时间和热情去做蠢事。我尊敬那些在画布上重复画一万道线的人,胜过那些只提出一个玄乎的概念。一个聪明的谜团,却舍不得给出答案的人。在我看来,这无情世界,因为有热情的蠢货,才有些浪漫。”这正是马良与整个创作团队的一份赤诚之心。

WeChat: PapasTimeMachine
Weibo
: ~/maleonn

 

Contributor: Chan Qu
Images Courtesy of Papa Puppet Cultural Development Co.


微信: PapasTimeMachine
微博
~/maleonn

 

供稿人: Chan Qu
图片由爸爸的时光机剧团提供