Culture\Music and Theater

Showing love with puppets

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-27 07:58

Showing love with puppets

Ma Liang (second from right) instructs performers at a rehearsal in Beijing. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

"My father wanted me to carry on with his career and he always told me he wanted to work in a theater production with me," says Ma Liang, who was born in Shanghai and graduated in arts and crafts from Shanghai University.

Ma Liang made two puppets to symbolize a father and his son. The main materials used were wood, iron and copper, which were held together by wires and wheels of various sizes.

The images for the two roles were inspired by the late German cartoonist E. O. Plauen's famous work, Vater und Sohn (Father and Son).

"My father bought the book for me when I was 10 years old or so. Though the book only has two characters, it became my favorite book," says Ma Liang, adding that his father is as "humorous and nice" as the father in the book.

Different from traditional puppetry, where small puppets are used, the characters Ma Liang made are life-size. The smaller of the two puppets is the average height of a 5-year-old boy, and is made of more than 1,000 parts. The bigger one is about 1.7 meters tall and made of more than 2,000 parts.

Unlike traditional puppetry, which has real actors hiding in the dark while controlling the puppets with strings or sticks, Papa's Time Machine has actors onstage alongside the puppets.

Ma Liang says because the puppets are heavy-the bigger one is around 8 kilograms-each puppet is controlled by two actors, which is quite a challenge for them.

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