Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cervantino 2014: What a Show They Put On!

Director Koryu Nishikawa with two singers and samisen player

The Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo folklore puppet company is a team, depending on more than puppets and puppeteers. The singers, who sit on a platform, give voice to the puppet characters. Meanwhile, the twanging, rhythmic samisen sends signals to the audience.

The main part of the evening was a two-course event: the first a play about a jilted maiden who turns into a giant sea serpent worked by three puppeteers, the other a comic piece with a pair of characters reminiscent of Don Quixote & Sancho Panza.

The puppetmasters are always visible, sitting on rolling boxes behind the puppets
After what seemed like the curtain call, two members of the company walked up the aisles holding yellow butterflies on flexible poles over the heads of the audience while people watched a comical monster ham it up onstage. When the creature finally lumbered off waving a Mexican flag, more laughter and more applause. To top it all off, as the grand finale, Koryu Nishikawa, a fifth generation Kuruma Ningyo ("rolling car" puppetmaster, delighted the audience with his dancing puppet wearing Mexican clothes.

Puppeteering is not for sissies. Years of practice underlay the success of this ninety-minute show. .

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