Water puppetry is now performed across Vietnam and even tours the world, writes Atlas Obsura, but “the most revered performance house” of all is Thang Long Municipal Theatre, located in the heart of Hanoi. “At performances here, puppeteers stand waist deep in the water behind a screen, and operate the puppets on large rods to give the impression that the figures are moving across the water. Performances involve between 7 and 11 puppeteers who usually train for at least three years.”
“We enjoyed the show a lot more than we expected to,” says Travelfish, “smiling at the cuteness and being even mildly wowed in places, and an hour is plenty long enough to get a flavour of the art form. It’s reasonably fast paced, with each play lasting only a few minutes, with fireworks and dry ice-smoke adding to the theatrical atmosphere.” As for the showmanship, the master puppeteers “make extensive use of dramatic music from the traditional orchestra and startling special effects, such as smoke, firecrackers, and water-spraying dragon puppets to create a lively performance,” notes Hanoi Travel.