Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppet Show
Htwe Oo puppet theatre in Yangon is a place that you can watch Myanmar traditional puppet shows. It is a small theatre owned by a family and most of the performers are family members. The shows are performed at 18:00-19:00 from Monday to Friday and from 17:00-19:00 at the weekend.
Htwe Oo puppet theatre
In Myanmar, the art of string puppet - yoke thay thabin – appeared in the 15th century and very popular in the 19th century. Puppets made of wood, dressed in costumes, are controlled by 16-30 wires to move as diverse and flexible as dancing. Puppet in the role of the wicked enters the stage from the left; prince, princess, and king from the right; characters having magic from above. The audience can see the control skill of the performer standing behind the stage and “saing waiang” is background music for the shows. The content usually tells about the past life of the Buddha or according to world creation myths and historical stories.
A traditional Burmese puppet show includes 27 characters, although all characters are not on stage at the same time, it still needs a lot of performers for a show. In the 1920s, the appearance of cinemas in Myanmar is the reason why there are few puppet theatres in Myanmar, and Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppet Show became special. Except Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppet Show lasting about 1 hour, you can only find short puppet shows in other theatres.
If in the past the audience of the puppet shows was the emperor, today the audience will be tourists, because the show is for tourists. The most attention-focused character is the “Natcado”, which has traditional dances to show respect to the gods, whose body movements are the most important skill of a puppet show. With only some wires, performers can perform and control puppets with quite complex movements and when performing they need to combine smoothly with musicians and voice actors. The puppet performers and voice actors must have a very good memory to be able to express a long story with a lot of details. It is the puppet performer that creates the success of the show.
Burmese believed that the boundary between nature and the supernatural is very fragile, the puppet also has a soul. When making puppet characters, artisans must follow many rules, puppets not only need to be beautiful, but they need to be really lively and soulful. When puppets are old, they keep them because they consider it as a way to preserve the tradition of this unique art.
(Image source: Internet)