Over the next four days, 28 puppetry groups from 11 countries and regions will perform in Quanzhou, a city famous for puppetry, in east China's Fujian Province.
At the opening ceremony of the Sixth China Quanzhou International Puppet Show Saturday, puppet masters from Russia, Hungary, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, India and Italy, together with Chinese puppeteers, entertained and amazed their audiences with various hand puppets, rod puppets and marionettes.
"It was a visual feast," said Rob Bloemkolk, a Dutch writer, producer and director. He and his puppeteer wife have visited many Chinese cities but the festival still offered something new. He was in awe of the "big group of Chinese performers and their puppets with changing faces," referencing a traditional Sichuan Opera performance and its rapid-fire mask changes.
Traditional Chinese puppet shows use dance, music and other art forms together, in "a more integrated way than European puppetry companies," according to Bloemkolk.
Sun Chen-chieh, head of a Taiwan puppet troupe, was impressed by Western performers' approach to puppetry. "They are more innovative using newer materials and performing styles than Chinese puppeteers," said Sun.
Sun's group has prepared a performance with paper puppets. "Actors will use just two pieces of paper to play different puppet roles on the stage," he said.
Due to puppetry's universal appeal, language was not a barrier for those in attendance. Audiences at the festival were in fits of laughter and gave standing ovations on Saturday.
Besides theaters, the visiting puppeteers will also visit local schools.