Nang Yai (Large Shadow Puppets)

By: Dawn SRV

Feb 01 2013

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Music and Art

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Nang Yai or large shadow puppet was a popular form of entertainment some hundred years ago. Traditionally, the story has to be about Ramayana only. Cow hide puppets are punched and cut into shapes of different characters in the story. Puppeteers move them around according to music and narration.
The traditional movements have to be close to the screen. On some stages, the same movement has to be done twice, just to show artistic patterns perforated on the puppets. It is too slow for contemporary audience. Because of that, this kind of show has become less and less popular until it is on the verge of extinction.
Bhanbhassa Dhubthien, a lecturer from Department of Dramatic Arts, Chulalongkorn University has conducted a research on acting, performed with large shadow puppet. She presented her research result as a show in contemporary ASEAN arts festival “Our Roots – Right Now” 2013. The show was a success, warmly welcome by the audience. In her own words, Bhanbhassa said, “My goal on directing this project is to make Nang Yai entertaining performance as it used to be. By doing this, Nang Yai performers not just only know the tradition of manipulating puppets, but also know how to connect their minds and bodies with the puppets. I consider them as actors and therefore, the puppets must be considered parts of their bodies. Furthermore, I use storytelling approach to develop Nang Yai form. Visual and sound elements had been adjusted to serve the performance.”

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