Leading Taiwanese puppetry troupes make Vancouver debut in multi-day festival

Lauded Taiwanese Puppet Festival Returns to MOA
for Enriching Second Installment of Cultural Exploration 

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC is pleased to present the return of the playful and insightful Taiwanese Puppet Festival, November 3-8, 2016This year MOA has invited two award-winning puppetry ensembles The Happy Puppetry Company and Puppet & Its Double Theater who will share their unique traditional and contemporary approaches to puppet theatreThe festival includes two days of public performances as well as a cultural exchange with First Nations artist Connie Watts. The festival is a featured event in Spotlight Taiwan, which explores Taiwanese culture as expressed through its performing arts, visual arts, living cultural representatives, and rich heritage. Spotlight Taiwan is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan).

 Republic of China./ TAIWAN-Republic of China : Jin Kwei Lo (ou Happy Puppetry Company) puppet theatre
Republic of China./ TAIWAN-Republic of China : Jin Kwei Lo (Happy Puppetry Company) puppet theatre

“MOA’s first puppet festival, presented in 2014, was an immense success and fostered a deeper appreciation and understanding of Taiwanese culture and its rich history,” explains Jill Baird, MOA Curator of Education. “We look forward to another culturally enriching experience this year, welcoming internationally-celebrated artists who will showcase the beauty of the handcrafted puppets, the skill of the puppeteers, and the types of universal stories they are able to tell.”

Monkey King
Monkey King

Ko Chiang, Managing and Artistic Director of The Happy Puppetry Company, is one of Taiwan’s leading female puppeteers. For more than 49 years, Chiang has spearheaded this award-winning ensemble specializing in Taiwanese glove puppet theatre that has been handed down over three generations. The company will perform two beloved and classic Taiwanese tales, The Monkey King and The Love Story, with its colourful cast of legendary warriors, spirits, and demons.

“Asian puppet theatre holds a deep meaning in Taiwanese culture,” says Chiang. “The vivid colours and sounds, coupled with delicate gestures and thrilling fight scenes of hand puppetry are interwoven in the consciousness of the Taiwanese people. The genre is often regarded as a symbol of the island’s Indigenous culture. The Happy Puppetry Company draws on deep-rooted traditions of this art form, which we’re delighted to showcase to Vancouver audiences.”


Another not-to-be-missed performance of the festival is Taiwan’s Puppet & Its Double Theater. The award-winning company offers a contemporary approach to puppetry, led by esteemed Artistic Director Chia-yin Cheng. Puppet & Its Double Theater will dive into the realm of experimental theatre, utilizing unconventional life-sized body puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets, and animated objects in its unique storytelling method. The puppet-actor performance combination will stage a production of Mr. Ruraru, a non-verbal story highlighting themes of growing up, sharing, and our relationship to the natural world.


The Taiwanese Puppet Festival will close November 6 at 3pm with a collaborative performance fusing the Taiwanese puppeteers’ skills and storytelling with First Nations visual artist Connie Watts.


School Performances, Workshop & Self-Guided Tour:

Alongside the public performances, the visiting puppeteers will give special school shows on November 3, 4, 7 & 8.

MOA is also collaborating with the Vancouver International Puppet Festival, and will be hosting a shadow puppet workshop on Saturday, October 30 with local puppeteer Jeny Cassady, during which participants will learn about the art of performing with shadows, and will make their own shadow puppets in time for Halloween. Cost: $20 adults, $10 children; MOA members $10 adults, $5 children.

Finally, MOA visitors are invited to participate in a self-guided puppet tour, which will introduce them to an extensive collection of fascinating puppets from around the world, including Javanese rod puppets, Chinese shadow puppets, Sinhalese marionettes, and much more.

Full Festival Lineup:

Public Performances 
All public programs are free with MOA admission.

November 5 & 6, 2016 
11am – 12:00pm Puppet & Its Double Theater perform Mr. Ruraru
12:15pm – 1:15pm Happy Puppetry Company perform The Monkey King and The Love Story

Cultural Exchange
November 6, 2016 @ 3pm – 4pm
Visiting Taiwanese puppeteers will spend two days in workshops with First Nation artist Connie Watts. On Sunday, they will perform a collaborative experimental work that arises from this exchange, followed by an open reception for all attendees and museum visitors at 4pm.

School Shows
$10 per student, includes museum admission

Puppet & Its Double Theater School Shows
November 3, 4, [email protected] 10am & 12:30pm
Open to elementary and secondary students, this 40-minute performance will feature a unique and contemporary puppetry play, and a behind-the-scenes look at the puppet stage.

The Happy Puppetry Company School Shows
November 7, 8, 2016 @ 10am & 12:30pm
Open to elementary and secondary students, this 40-minute program will feature a traditional Taiwanese glove puppetry play, and a behind-the-scenes look at the puppet stage.

Complete festival details can be found at: moa.ubc.ca/puppet

About MOA (moa.ubc.ca)

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is world-renowned for its collections, research, teaching, public programs, and community connections. Founded in 1949 in the basement of the Main Library at UBC, its mission is to inspire understanding of and respect for world arts and cultures. Today, Canada’s largest teaching museum is located in a spectacular building overlooking mountains and sea. MOA houses more than 42,000 ethnographic objects and 535,000 archaeological objects, including many that originate from Asia (about 40 per cent of MOA’s collection) as well as from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. The Koerner Gallery features one of Canada’s most important European ceramics collections, while MOA’s recently opened Multiversity Galleries provide public access to more than 10,000 objects from around the world. The Audain Gallery and the O’Brian Gallery, MOA’s temporary exhibition spaces, showcase travelling exhibits, as well as those developed in-house.

About The Happy Puppetry Company (bodehi.com.tw)

Since the company’s establishment in 1967, The Happy Puppetry Company has travelled all over Taiwan sharing performances of traditional hand puppetry at temples, fairs, and in rural communities. This highly revered company has been awarded first prize several times in local Taiwanese Puppetry Competitions, and a number of performances have been featured at theatre festivals organized by the Ministry of Education. In addition, the company was honoured to represent Taiwan at the Fourth Asia-Pacific Festival of Puppetry, and was met with great acclaim. The Happy Puppetry Company is committed to the preservation of local culture by training the next generation of performers, and sharing the essence of traditional puppetry in their performances.

Puppet & Its Double Theater (puppetx2.com.tw)

Puppet & Its Double Theater was founded in September 1999 in Taipei, Taiwan, and is composed of a group of enthusiastic puppet artists who feel puppets are dynamic tools to freely express contemporary theatre. An internationally renowned troupe, their versatile work includes hand puppets, string puppets, rod puppets, table-top puppets, shadow puppets, object theatre, and the combination of puppets and actors performing on the same stage. Puppet & Its Double Theater is dedicated to providing innovative training in puppetry, educational events, and published works. The ensemble also regularly invites world-renowned groups to perform and develop artistic puppetry in Taiwan.


The Taiwanese Puppet Festival is supported by the
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Leave a Comment