If you plan to see the water puppets show at Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre in Ho Chi Minh, plan ahead and get your tickets the day you get there as the performance hall is small with limited seats which get booked much in advance by tour agents. We were lucky to get tickets but when we went in, realised that we were on the last row.
Water Puppets originated in the delta of the Red river in Vietnam in the 11th century, and are still popular. The importance of water in all aspects of life really comes through in these performance.This unique art form has won many intenational puppet awards.
A live orchestra accompanies the performance with traditional music and song. Singers tell the stories and shout encouragement to the puppets that range from dragons, fishes, water fairies and farmers. Its all in the local language and incomprensible. The puppet show is performed in a pool of water 4 meters square with the water surface being the stage.The puppeteers stand behind a split-bamboo screen, decorated to resemble a temple facade, and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. The puppets are carved out of wood and brightly colored.