An Evening With the Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe

I’ve never seen a marionette/puppet performance in my life, so when a friend Belinda Tan posted in Facebook about the Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe performing outside the Asian Civilisations Museum, I went for it.

Held on 16 and 17th Feb from 6-9pm, the performance is part of the Regenerating Communities project, an initiative for remaking Empress Place featuring cultural art forms to revitalise communities and reaffirm cultural identities. According to the Creative Director, Jeremiah Choy, the time chosen allows the audience to experience the puppet performance as the sun sets, giving a different visual experience as the sky darkens.

The Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe is currently led by 62-year old Mr. Yang Lai Hao who has been learning and practising the art form since he was 7. He bought it over from his master, Mr. Zhu for a token sum of $3,000. It is the only remaining Heng Hwa puppet troupe in Singapore and Mr. Yang mentioned during a Q&A session that he is looking for successor to take over the troupe and keep the traditional art form alive. He has a cousin from Putian, China who is interested but unfortunately due to some red tape he is still unable to come over to Singapore to continue the legacy. Let’s hope this will be resolved soon so that this will not end up like the many other traditional art forms which have disappeared over the years.

The colour stage of the Sin Hoe Ping (新和平) Puppet Troupe before the performance.
The puppet cast of the chinese classic, "Journey to the West". The monkey god Sun Wukong is represented here by 2 puppets, each of a different costume.
Mr. Yang also plays the Suona and Dizi, a wooden chinese flute.

The crowd at the venue, eagerly waiting for the performance to begin.
Jeremiah Choy, creative director for the "Regenerating Communities" project gives a introductory speech at the beginning of the performance.

Scenes from "Journey to the West. The puppets along with the skills of their puppeteers are agile enough to even do a sommersault!
Mr. Yang at the backstage manipulating his puppet.
Mr. Yang is all smiles as he takes questions from the audience.
The team members of the Sin Hoe Ping (新和平) Puppet Troupe, consisting of puppeteers and musicians.
Mr. Yang poses with a puppet of Sun Wukong, one of the characters of "Journey to the West"

Other than traditional puppets, Mr. Yang has also developed a new type of puppet which is meant to be more easily manipulable and appealing to the general person with their cuddly and cute appearance. It features battery-operated motorised legs and is featured in the next performace, “Monkey’s Wedding”.

A scene from "Monkey's Wedding".

By dusk, the stage has taken on a different look, with the warm and colourful lights of the stage set against the evening sky.

The stage of the Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe set aganist the backdrop of CBD buildings at dusk.
The stage of the Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe, now brightly lit in colourful bulbs.

I also took a few shots of the backstage, where the puppeteers are hard at work manipulating their characters while the musicians provide the sound track. The last performance is “Wusong Fights the Tiger”, another Chinese classic.

Musicians and Puppeteers
The puppeteers from the front, shot from a low angle.

To give an idea of what the puppet performance is like, I’ll leave you with a short video which I’ve shot from the “Wusong Fights the Tiger”. This is where Pan Jinlian encounters the tiger at Mount Jingyang.

Once again, many thanks to Belinda for notifying and inviting me to the event. It has been a real eye-opener and a pleasure to shoot. For more photos, please visit my Flickr set for the Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe.

2 replies on “An Evening With the Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe”

I just saw your posts on the Puppet Troupe and wanted to see their blogspot but was denied entry. Do you know how I can get in and see it?

Thank you

Looks like they’ve protected their blog. Not sure how you can contact them for access though.

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