Man-and-Puppet Show in Lin’gao of Hainan
Lin’gao man-and-puppet show is a rare play unique to Hainan Province. It is popular mainly in Lin’gao County in the northwest of Hainan Province, and nearby township and villages of Haikou City, Chengmai County, and Danzhou City whose residents speak Lin’gao dialect.
According to some elderly performers, Lin’gao man-and-puppet show originated from the late Southern Song Dynasty. The early residents in Lin’gao all used crabstick puppets in the shape of a person when worshipping gods and Buddhas and driving away ghosts and evils. Later on, the puppet was renovated by performers and taken onto the stage. The show had come into being during Emperor Kangxi’s reign in the Qing Dynasty. The senior performer Chen Hecheng, over eighty years old then, submitted to the government his ten puppets kept for seven generations of his family in 1979. The heads of four puppets were carved with the era name "Kangxi".
In puppet shows in general, the stage is often covered by a screen, behind which stand the performers. The audience can only see the puppets. However, the puppet show in Lin’gao County is an exception. In the show, the performer and the puppet play the same role and there is no screen on the stage. The performer uses his or her different emotions to complement the deficiency of the puppet’s expression. The performances of the performer and the puppet intersect with each other, making the show unique in history and at present.
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