Wuzhen Dongzha has a special spectacle, a Shadow Puppet Theatre. The small company works with traditional chinese stories, music and technique to handle puppets, and of course traditional Shadow puppets made from leather. Even though the performances are mostly shorter than usual, it’s enough to ensure their enjoyment.

That day of March I went to Dongzha, the village was pretty packed with hundreds of children from nearby schools (and of course tourists), so you can imagine how I felt when I tried to get in the small theatre. It was so crowded that I prefered to wait for the next performance, then an employee told me I could see the performance from behind the stage if I wanted, and of course I did and I recorded the whole 5-minute play back stage.

The experience was very interesting: old musicians playing traditional instruments, only one puppeteer (a young woman) with her assistance, and those beautiful puppets of course. It seemed that day they expected hundreds of children so they prepared a simple fight-scene between the Monkey King and other mythological warriors, showing how the Monkey King was able to change himself into anyhting he wanted.

After watching from behind the stage, I could watch the performance as any other spectator, and of course I recorded the whole play as well.

The wonderful experience aside, I think it was a unique opportunity to see how one Shadow Puppet performance is done facing the stage and behind it, to study it or simply to enjoy this traditional theatrical culture from two different points of view.