File puptcrit/puptcrit.0412, message 61

Date: Mon, 06 Dec 2004 14:51:49 -0800
To: <>
Subject: [Puptcrit] Chinese Rod Puppetry

Dear Andrew and others,

Before coming to the states, Zheng Li Xu and Yu Qin Wang were both with the
puppet theater in Beijing which specializes in rod puppets.  Zheng Li Xu was
the representative Chinese rod puppeteer at the UNIMA festival in Japan many
years ago.  At that festival, the Chinese puppetry association tried to send
the top puppeteer in each of the four main categories (rod, hand, string and
shadow) but I think the shadow puppeteer from Tang Shan was unable to go.
The hand puppeteer was Yang Feng and the marionettist was Huang Yi Que.

Anyway, Zheng Li Xu and Yu Qin Wang have settled outside of Portland, Oregon
where they also run a gift shop across from Portland Chinese Garden.  Along
with their daughter Brenda, they perform a three person show with a series
of short acts.  One is "Crane and Turtle" which was a classic poem adapted
to shadow theater but since then rod puppeteers have also put it into their
repertoire.  Another is a dance inspired by the Dun Huang cave paintings of
fairy-like musicians and dancers.  Some puppets are more traditionally
styled but others have a contemporary look.  I think the show has about 4 or
5 acts and lasts about 45 minutes.  The puppets are about a meter tall.  We
had their performance here last spring and it was well received, especially
by school groups because it tied in with the curriculum on China.

Xu Zheng Li and Wang Yu Qin also did a larger performance with a bunch of
Portland puppeteers based on a fairytale which I think was called "The Pearl
Princess".  I didn't catch that show so I don't know much about it but maybe
someone else on the list knows more.

Here is their email and website should anyone want:

While on the topic of NEA's Heritage Fellowship which was established in
1982, I should mention the other puppeteer who received it in 1983;

Mike Manteo, Sicilian Marionettist

Viva la opera dei pupi!  As a big fan of the Manteo Family, I think he was
especially deserving of the award but so are many people.  It is a shame
that more puppeteers have not received this honor (and most puppeteers
probably wouldn't mind the extra $ either).  From what I understand, each
year a panel of folk arts and heritage people get together to consider the
nominations.  I think this last round had several hundred nominees but the
panel had to sort down to ten awards.  Some of it may also depend on
political weight as elected officials in D.C. might push for artists in
their districts.  One last thing to mention is that this award is for
individuals and not non-profit arts organizations as is the case with other
NEA awards.  Hopefully some others out there will get the award in the years
to come.


Dmitri Carter

Northwest Puppet Center
9123 - 15th Ave. N.E.
Seattle, WA 98115

tel:  206 523 2579
fax:  206 523 8078

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