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October 19, 2011

Talks on Chinese puppets and opera at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall

Wan Qing Yuan (晚晴园), formerly known as Sun Yat-Sen villa, is now known as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. It was closed for redevelopment last year and reopened this month which happened to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution of China.

Statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen outside the Memorial Hall

Photo courtesy of Derrick See

There will be a cultural festival (9-30 October) which is already ongoing. What is of interest to me is the upcoming talks on Chinese puppets and opera.

27 October "Puppetry in Chinese Opera", 2-4pm

29 October "Puppetry in Chinese Opera", 10am-12pm

The English and Chinese titles on the programme sheet are a little confusing but according to a friend, both talks will be on Chinese puppetry and the content is the same on both days (so don't worry about missing out anything if you cannot attend the Thursday talk). 

Details of the programme can be found here:

Will update soon on the talks!

October 12, 2011

Who says puppets are unrealistic?

Was very delighted to see puppet display at the Esplanade walkway last month. These puppets are actually depictions of real-life people who are usually neglected by the mainstream society, like the utensil collector, street performer, cardboard collector and gardener, etc.

Mr Ali, the gardener

Uncle Fong, the cardboard collector

Auntie selling noodles

Mr. Tan, can collector

Uncle Tan, construction worker 


Indeed these are the various occupations held by some of the middle-aged and elderly people in modern day Singapore. They belong to one of the lowest strata of society and can barely afford 3 meals a day. I like the details of the puppets and the way the creators bring out an interesting aspect of these people's lives through the use of puppets. The expressions on the puppets are usually gloomy or sad which can be interpreted as a kind of social stigma these people have to overcome in life. 

The puppets have strings attached to them which mean they can be categorized as "marionettes". However, the creators and manipulators of these puppets also cleverly perform these puppets in real-life situations, e.g. on a walking street, near the garden etc.

This puppet project titled "Circus of Life" is created by the Papermoon Puppet (Indonesia) and the School of Design and Media, ITE (Singapore). More details of the Papermoon Puppet can be found here: