(VNS) Nine pup-peteers from the Viet Nam National Water Puppetry Theatre will end their one-year tour of France at the end of this month with the puppet show Le Maitre des Marionnettes (Master of Water Puppetry), written and staged by Dominique Pitoiset, director of the Theatre National de Bordeaux en Aquitaine (National Theatre of Bordeaux in Aquitaine).
Patrick Pernin, the theatre's director in charge of co-operation and development, talks with Culture Vulture about the show.
How was the show received by the French public?
The show was performed on the biggest national stages in France, including the Quai Branly Museum in Paris and the Celestin Theatre in Lyon. So it reached a huge number of people and got many positive reactions.
In December, it will also be performed at the Grand Theatre of Luxembourg. Personally, I was very impressed by the quality of the show. I think that Dominique Pitoiset succeeded in combining the traditional art with a modern mise-en-scene.
The play was written and staged by a French artist. Do you think that his vision of Asian puppetry traditions might be different from the shows we are used to watching in Viet Nam?
It might be very bold of us to declare those Vietnamese traditional shows our exclusive property. Pitoiset has written about the story of the master of water puppetry, which is more than 1,000 years old.
The story also depicts Ha Noi 10 centuries ago, which is particularly relevant since the city has just celebrated its 1,000th anniversary. It illustrates the evolution of the country through the story of the water puppetry master. Looking at the characters, we can retrace the origins of Viet Nam's cities and people and see how they developed into what they are today.
Pitoiset has visited Viet Nam several times, experiencing the countryside as well as big cities.
Did you have any difficulties in working with the Vietnamese artists?
No, luckily, we didn't have any difficulty working with them. We explained our project and its pedagogic dimension very carefully to the artists and to the Vietnamese theatre, so we eliminated any difficulties related to language and cultural differences. We really enjoyed working with those artists.
Why did you decide to co-operate with the Vietnamese theatre?
This project was only realised thanks to Jean-Luc Larguier, the executive producer of the show in Ha Noi. He was the one who brought the tradition of Vietnamese water puppetry to France in the 90s.
It's our first time co-operating with a Vietnamese theatre, but we hope to continue to collaborate with those artists as well as other theatres in Viet Nam in the future. — VNS