The Asia-Europe Puppet Festival in Bangkok, Thailand from 13th-23rd July, 2002 was a festival that allowed the audience “to know, to learn and to enjoy” as said by then Executive Director Amb. Delfin Colome during the closing speech at the Thailand Cultural Centre.
String, glove, hand, wood, latex… all types of traditional and contemporary puppets from 16 Asian and European countries were present in Bangkok for workshops and demonstrations as well as daily and nightly free performances at the Thailand Cultural Centre, commercial centres and educational institutes. The festival, co-organised by the Office of National Culture Commission of Thailand and ASEF, attracted more than 200 people each evening. The exhibition booths set up along the Thailand Cultural Centre invited the public to discover more about the puppets from Europe and Asia, by trying them out themselves. The festival offered the European and Asian puppeteers a unique opportunity to exchange and discover new techniques.
“Exposure to such a range of work was very inspiring and important for my own practice. In addition, as I was performing alongside these companies, it afforded me the opportunity to see their equipment being set-up, and watch the performances from back-stage if l wished, and so discover first hand the technicalities and secrets of their work. I found all participants generous and friendly and happy to let me handle and examine their equipment and discuss with me its use. In turn I was glad to share our work with others. The whole atmosphere of the festival was one of openness and sharing of knowledge, and there was a distinct feeling of a community coming together to re-enforce their practice and support for each other.” – Said Niamh Lawlor from Puca Puppets, lreland.
‘Puppet Theatre is distinguished from other dramatic forms by an uncanny ability to bring to life inanimate figures. Periodically, resurrecting and laying to rest its actors, it is able to cross, at will, the barriers between the supernatural and natural worlds, or the realm between fantasy and the everyday’. – by Prof. Anthony Shelton in Epic. Dream. Satire (The Royal Pavilion, Art Gallery and Museums, Brighton, 1991).