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Combining traditional and modern art forms in Laos

The Prince Claus Fund supports Théâtre d'Ombres et Cinéma TukTuk, a project that aims at the rehabilitation of the traditional shadow theatre in combination with a cinema tour in different (remote) villages in Laos. The Lao people from these villages have not yet been introduced to modern cultural infrastructures and since the political events that took place in 1975 these artforms have not been performed. Therefore the project aims at helping people to see how important their culture is in order to preserve the cultural heritage of puppetry, while at the same time making them familiar with global issues such as development and the environment.

Combining traditional and modern art forms in Laos

"rehabilitate the traditional art of shadow theatre"

aim of the project

Background information

Puppetry is a traditional art form performed throughout different parts of Asia. It is used in a variety of social functions in traditional village settings. Although puppetry is still performed there has been a decline of the art, due to modern forms of entertainment such as television, cinema and computer. In Laos the art form completely disappeared since significant political changes from the 20th century onwards. Laos has a history of Kingdoms from the 14th century until it became a French protectorate in 1893. After independence in 1954 a period of Civil War followed that lasted until 1975 when the communistic People’s Democratic Republic of Laos was established. The tradition of puppetry was almost forgotten, until it was brought back to live by the Central Puppet Group.

 

Global flows of culture and entertainment forms have major impact on local cultures and it is interesting to see the project Théâtre d'Ombres et Cinéma TukTuk within this context. Although it is often argued that globalisation causes a tendency towards cultural homogenisation we can see intensified heterogeneity because local groups or people want to distinguish themselves and reinforce their cultural and ethnic origins. In this project modern elements interact with traditional aspects of Lao history.

 

Usually puppetry takes place in temple court yards, which is shown on the photographs below.

background information

These photographs portray elements, such as computers and a cinemascreen, contrasting the traditional background of the temple with the modern image of the screen. Because the existence of puppetry is threatened by television and movies, the connection of the performance to cinema is a productive one in the context of the rehabilitation and rescue of cultural heritage. Other photographs show that the project is visited by many people with among them a lot of children. Surrounded by young Laos the puppet shows, combined with the film showings, get a meaning that fits within the contemporary world, bringing part of Lao culture back to life.

 

However, the project is not only about the rescuing of art. With the combination of modern elements and traditional meanings the performance has an educational value. The traditional function of the puppet shows, honoring the spirits of ancestors embodied in the puppets, have declined throughout Asia, but different uses of puppetry are on the rise. Théâtre d'Ombres et Cinéma TukTuk has educational purposes in the sense that during the performance developmental and environmental issues are included. Thus the project uses a traditional form of art to address to matters of global significance in order to amuse, entertain and educate.

Grants & Samenwerking

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Grants & Samenwerking

Combining traditional and modern art forms in Laos

 
 
 
 

Combining traditional and modern art forms in Laos

The Prince Claus Fund supports Théâtre d'Ombres et Cinéma TukTuk, a project that aims at the rehabilitation of the traditional shadow theatre in combination with a cinema tour in different (remote) villages in Laos. The Lao people from these villages have not yet been introduced to modern cultural infrastructures and since the political events that took place in 1975 these artforms...