In a darkened theater in central Hanoi, a wooden dragon emerges from a pool to the sound of cymbals crashing in a traditional water puppet show that lures hundreds of tourists daily but is largely shunned by locals. Backstage behind a thin bamboo screen, around 20 puppeteers slosh around waist-deep in rubber overalls wielding the marionettes with long rods. “The puppets are pretty heavy… and the water also creates resistance,” said puppeteer Nguyen Thu Hoai, who swapped her galoshes for flip-flops between sold-out shows. “But our years of training and experience helps us control them,” added Hoai, who like many of her colleagues graduated from Hanoi’s College of Theater and Cinema. Vietnamese craftsman Pham Viet Duc, 76, putting finishing touches on a water puppet at a workshop in Thai Binh Province. Photo by AFP/Nhac Nguyen Some of the puppets weigh as much as 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and the largest ones, like the one-meter-tall (three-foot) fairy, require four people to manipulate. The shows at Hanoi’s Thang Long theater have become a staple on the well-trodden tourist circuit and draw thousands every week, including many first-time viewers. “I’ve never seen a puppet show that way with the water,” American tourist Caroline… Read full this story
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