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A-A+发布时间:2013年07月17日 05:43来源:21CN网


As Li Wenxing arrives at the rehearsal room of Guangdong Province Puppet Art Theater, Guangzhou city is still sleeping. It’s 6:30 am and the silence is conspicuous. Li, 23, graduated from a drama performance major at Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai campus last summer. Her parents asked her to come back to her hometown in Henan province, but she decided to apply to the puppet theater instead.


“I loved these traditional arts when I was at university. I once saw an online video of a puppet show by the director of the puppet theater. It was really amazing and left a deep impression on me,” says Li.


When she began to train, Li had to hold up a puppet, the lightest of which weigh more than 2.5 kilograms, for five to ten minutes at a time. Later, the time was gradually increased.


“Every puppeteer needs to be able to hold up a puppet with one hand for at least 40 minutes. That’s why our right arms are always stronger and bigger than our left ones,” says Li.


Painfully happy


After Lu Jie, 21, completed his puppet-lifting training, he faced an even more difficult task: He had to learn to control the puppet with two bamboo sticks. Lu practiced five to six hours every day and his fingers blistered easily. But he didn’t put on an adhesive bandage when the blisters broke.


“It was very painful. But if I had begun using adhesive bandages, I would have relied on them and it would have made my fingers less flexible when controlling the puppet. So the only solution was for me to wait until my fingers grew thick calluses,” says Lu.


Lu used to be a dancer before joining the puppet theater. He had never seen a puppet show before and it was a new experience for him.


“I faced the audience directly when I was dancing, but now I had to express my emotions through a puppet. It was frustrating at first, but when I got used to it I felt like I had overcome a big challenge. It gave me a big sense of achievement,” says Lu.


His first performance was during the national holiday last year, when he played the head of a dragon in a show. “I felt a lot of pressure and was very nervous. I could hardly fall asleep the night before. Even though I only performed for seven minutes I was soaked with sweat,” says Lu.


Compared with Li Wenxing and Lu Jie, Li Kuan, 22, is a senior in this profession. He comes from a family of puppeteers and is the sixth generation in his family to inherit this tradition. He began puppeteering after finishing junior middle school.


“I grew up in a small village in Zhanjiang. After the rice had been gathered in August, the village would invite a puppet group to perform for a week. That was always the most wonderful period in the village and the puppet shows impressed me deeply,” says Li.


He went to Gaozhou to learn puppeteering from his uncle and began performing around Guangdong when he was 15 years old.


“Sometimes we would go out performing for a whole month. Besides the puppets and stage props, I also had to bring a mat and quilt. When we finished the show, I would spread out the mat beside the stage to sleep,” says Li.


Behind the curtain


Despite the hardship, Li says he enjoyed the experience. “Every time when I heard the applause and laughter from the audience, I felt a sense of achievement,” he says. Li joined the Guangdong Province Puppet Art Theater in 2007. The basic training was not difficult for him, but he needed to spend time creating and shaping his characters.


“Before, I learned by imitating the people in my village, but when I joined the puppet theatre I had to learn to create a role by myself. I needed to figure out their personality and I hope now I can make them come alive through my hands,” says Li.


There are some 60 men and women in the puppet theater, and more and more from the post-1990s generation are enrolling to learn the traditional art from their seniors.


In order to play their roles well, these young people discuss scripts with each other in their spare time and cherish every chance to practice with their puppets.


“We stay behind the curtain when we perform with the puppets, but when they laugh, we laugh, and when they cry, we cry, too,” says Lu.


“There is a show on the stage, but there is also one behind it. When we come out with the puppets at the end of the show, the applause is for all of us,” says Lu.





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