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Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theater

Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theater

◎Text (English & Chinese) and Photos by Hou Ya-ting

 

 

 Established in 1820, Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theater is the oldest shadow puppet troupe in Taiwan. This family-run group is now led by Mr. Jhang Fu-guo, a sixth-generation descendant of the founder. He has dedicated himself to the family business since he became director in 1987. In 2020, Kaohsiung City Government honored Mr. Jhang as an official cultural heritage conservator for shadow puppetry.

Photos by Hou Ya-tingPhotos by Hou Ya-ting Wherever Tung-Hua performs, audiences are mesmerized by the stories it tells through its silhouetted puppets. Tung-Hua's signature program is a pastiche of Sun Wu-kong (aka Monkey King) battling Princess Iron Fan, an episode in Journey to the West, the classic 16th-century Chinese novel some Westerners know through the Japanese TV adaption titled Monkey.

 Sun Wu-kong, riding on a somersault cloud, flees in the blink of an eye, then returns with a jump. He turns himself into a bug and hides in a cup of tea, from which Princess Iron Fan is about to drink. Members of the audience applaud the agile movements of the puppets, brought to life by master puppeteer Mr. Jhang and two assistants who skillfully manipulate the silhouette puppets and control light effects.

 The team works behind a translucent white cloth screen, where a light behind the colorful puppets cast shadows on the screen. Light and shadow combine to create an intriguing atmosphere. Mr. Jhang's seamless collaboration with his assistant puppeteers is an essential element in every show.

 Amazingly, Mr. Jhang also narrates all the roles in Hokkien (also known as the Taiwanese language) while performing. His narration reflects the emotions and personality of each character. A group of musicians playing the tam-tam, drum, and erhu provides improvised accompaniment; no sheet music is used. Shadow puppetry works best when performed in front of a live audience, as their reaction contributes to the event.

 Mr. Jhang says that some fans feel that the shadows cast on the screen bring out lifelike aspects in a performance. As director of Tung-Hua, he pays attention to every detail during performances and tries to satisfy different types of audience.

Photos by Hou Ya-ting Mr. Jhang stresses that a lead puppeteer has to be a good narrator and speak clearly. Furthermore, painting skills and creativity are crucial if a puppeteer is to make an exquisite shadow puppet out of cowhide. The family that runs Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theater has passed down painting techniques which involve gradations of tone on cowhide, following by carving. When Mr. Jhang beholds a script that is more than a century old, and which has been passed down through the generations, he feels a humble devotion to preserving this traditional cultural asset by touring at home and abroad.

 A shadow puppet is held up by two rods, while the puppeteer operates additional rods. Mr. Jhang jokes that he wishes he had 18 hands while performing shadow puppetry. This recognized master of the art strives to give his best performance each and every time. Mr. Jhang's son works beside him as one of the assistant puppeteers; the father and son collaborate so intuitively there is no need to speak. Together, they ensure that the glory of Tung-Hua will continue to shine.

     Facebook of Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theaters
    https://reurl.cc/4meR3D

 

 

東華皮影劇團

◎文、攝影/侯雅婷

 

  高雄的東華皮影劇團是全臺歷史最悠久的皮影戲劇團,創立於1820年,東華皮影劇團一直以來都是家族傳承式的經營,團長張榑國先生是第六代傳人。張榑國自1987年接任團長,演出資歷逾半世紀,今(2020)年,高雄市政府登錄張榑國為皮影戲偶製作技術保存者。一起領略東華皮影劇團歷久彌新的表演魅力。

  乘著夜色,上演東華的招牌戲之一〈西遊記〉孫悟空大戰鐵扇公主,皮影戲主演張榑國和祝演靈活的操偶技術,演活了平面的牛皮製戲偶,無論是孫悟空乘著筋斗雲倏忽即逝的俐落,或是孫悟空去而復返的呈現手法,乃至孫悟空化身一隻小蟲隱身在鐵扇公主正要喝下去的茶水裏的那份靈巧,讓看倌們拍案叫好。

  燈光打在皮影戲偶上,光、影讓皮影戲偶透著浪漫而神祕的氛圍。前台操偶的主演和助演三人,邊操偶、還得負責燈光特效,而主演張榑國一會兒是當孫悟空的配音、一會兒又捏著嗓子當起鐵扇公主的配音,充滿感情的閩南語口白掌控全劇氛圍,後方的樂師們沒有樂譜,緊盯每個演出環節,即興演出鑼鼓等樂聲,整場演出絕無冷場。

  張榑國指出,皮影戲的演出要能滿足不同層次的觀眾,比如有的觀眾喜愛皮影戲偶帶有陰影的效果,皮影戲表演呈現獨特的人文氛圍,演出時,張榑國會留意每個演出環節。

  張榑國強調,主演的口白一定要清晰,且須具備深厚的畫畫功力,因為皮影戲偶的製做取決於繪畫功力,東華家傳的牛皮戲偶繪畫技術能出漸層的顏色,搭配雕刻,讓皮影戲偶更顯精緻。張榑國拿出家傳的手繪皮影戲腳本,看著一本本的皮影戲腳本和被媒油燈燻黑的皮影戲偶,皮影戲世家傲人的家傳文化,讓人動容。

  一隻皮影戲偶有2支操作桿,隨著劇情增加道具,張榑國說,演出時他恨不得有18隻手,這位台灣皮影戲的大腕兢兢業業的看待每場演出。當被問起,下一代是否有意願接手皮影戲這行,張榑國說,演出時,兒子在一旁擔任助演,父子默契好到不用言語,也能順暢地合作表演,後繼有人,讓東華繼續在皮影戲文化領域,發光發亮。

     東華皮影劇團臉書 (中文網頁)   
    https://reurl.cc/4meR3D