Friday, April 11, 2008

Puppet Performance during the Chinese Cultural Revolution Age (1972)

In 1972 Micheangelo Antonioni was invited by the Chinese government (It is said it was Den Xiaoping among them) to make a film about the new China, that China immersed inside its Cultural Revolution. Antonioni filmed whatever his Chinese advisers wanted, whenever they wanted, wherever they wanted; everything was well prepared to make an ideological document of the Maoist era. When the final product was released the government was furious and banned the film (1) .

The documentary is simple but clear and even rebel, showing everything the Chinese government wanted to show but edited in the way the spectator was absolutely able to understand the difficult moment Chinese people were living in those years.

The scene I want to show from the documentary is a puppet performance at Chang'An theatre, a simple stage production with real size puppets imitating the playing of a musical orchestra.

Antonioni opened the camera to the public, showing their faces, their waiting for the performance, and the presence of the people stayed there with the sound of their laugh during the theatrical act. Then, the performance came as an example of the Socialist Realism in Cultural Revolution age, nothing engaged with the traditional way to do Puppet theatre: costume as in the real life, children or teenagers with healthy faces and bodies, showing security and happiness while they were playing.

The acting technique seems very professional and well worked, even if the performance is so simple some of the puppets expresses "life" in their actions; the best example is the girl playing the er-hu (that kind of violin or small cello), she seems (like a real girl) enjoying her performance.

(1) The documentary had its first view for the public inside China in 2005.

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    Im an IB student studying in Peru, and One of my Ib courses is Theatre Arts. For this course I have to do a research comission on a theatre tradition. And i chose to do Beijing Opera, however Im stuggling a lot with it, because all the information provided in the internet is very theoretical and not practical at all. And I was wondering since, you seem to know a lot about this theatre traditon and since u r in Beijing if you could give me some practical information on this theatre tradition. What I mean by this is how to act. For example for this work that I have to do im writing a lettter to an actress who is acting the character Qing yi in the legend of the White Snke. And I need to tell her things like, if you want to get more flexibility to be able to do acrobatics you need to walk on the tip of your toes. Things like that. That will help her act the character out.

    What I want to say is, I would appreciate very much if you could tell me, or just give me references, such as books, movies, people, interviews, i dont know, anything that could give me practical information.

    My email is:

    thank you


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