Students delight in shadow puppetry
About 20 students from the Shanghai Wenlai Experimental School performed traditional piyingxi, or shadow puppetry, at the Jing’an Cultural Center on June 9 to celebrate Cultural and Natural Heritage Day.
Shadow puppetry is an ancient form of storytelling that originated in the royal court about 2,000 years ago. Puppeteers stand behind a backlit paper or cloth screen, manipulating the puppets using wooden sticks.
In urban areas, the old folk art has been largely forgotten. But Wenlai School revived the heritage, with the cooperation of professional puppeteers, to teach students how to make puppets and perform shows.
Dozens of students have joined the project. They include six-grader Chen Chuyue, who has been studying puppetry for two years.
“I didn’t know anything about it at first, but I thought it might be interesting, so I joined in the class,” she said.
There were challenges. The youngsters had some trouble understanding the local accents of the puppeteers and found traditional tunes associated with the art form hard to sing.
“We listened to the students and made adjustments to suit their voices and abilities,” said the school’s vice president Yang Juan. “We also took their suggestions into consideration when writing a play. Our shows are adapted from popular cartoon series or inspired by trendy topics, and we use popular songs.”