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Vietnamese Water Puppets Perform Danish Fairy Tales

A troupe from the Viet Nam Puppetry Theatre is touring the French cities of Lyon and Le Revest-les-Eaux to perform the classic fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.


The tour has been undertaken as part of a project begun in 2013 between the Viet Nam Puppetry Theatre and the French Interarts Riviera SA organisation.

Three popular Danish stories, including The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling and The Steadfast Tin Soldier are recounted using Vietnamese traditional water puppetry.

The 60-minute performance is put on by some ten artists.

This is the second time Anderson's tales have been performed using water puppetry in France, with the first performances being held during the Vietnamese Culture Week to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the relationships between Viet Nam and France in 2013.

"Last time, French audiences were enchanted with performances as it was the first time they enjoyed Andersen stories through Vietnamese water puppetry," said artist Nguyen Tien Dung.

The project was interrupted in 2014 when Jean-Luc Larguier, head of the Interats Riviera SA, died. His wife, Chantal Larguier, has since taken over her late husband's project.

"She said she will continue her husband's project and annually sponsor the play, not only in France, but also in other European countries," Dung added.

The project was begun in 2010 when Larguier and his wife saw the Andersen's Fairy Tales at the second International Puppetry Festival in Ha Noi in 2010.

Andersen's Fairy Tales was created in 2004 by artist Ngo Quynh Giao, the puppet theatre's former director.

"I love the fairy tales because of their humanity. They are not only for young readers as their moving stories are rather meaningful," said Giao.

He selected the three stories that he thought were suitable for water puppetry as the stories related to water.

He was, at that time, in charge of the three main roles of script writer, puppet maker and director. The performance debut was in 2005 in Ha Noi and was highly praised by both critics and the press.

However, the spectacle was put on hold for some five years until the second International Puppetry Festival was held in Ha Noi in 2010.

To meet the demand of the French counterparts, the puppets were updated. In the early years, a single puppet was controlled by three artists, but Giao had to later adjust a single puppet to be operated by only one artist.

To perform in France, the artists had to kneel during the show and execute very slow and sophisticated movements because the water stage was only 50cm in depth, compared to the usual 85cm.

In late 2013, Anderson's Fairy Tales were performed at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris and were warmly received by an audience of some 4,000 who enjoyed seeing popular European stories combined with Vietnamese traditional water puppetry.

The show kicked off at Lyon City's Musee Confluences last Saturday and will continue until November 8.


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