Mike Powell and Jürgen Horn brought us a performance of Vietnamese Water Puppets in Ha Long Bay last spring. The art form left them wondering what the mechanics of such a show looked like on the other side of the set, so they went backstage to see.
As it turns out, and as you can see in our video, there’s no great secret — these guys are just highly proficient at their job, and use clever tools to create their illusions. More than the poles being pushed about, and the strings being pulled, the biggest trick seems to be the crew’s highly synchronized organization. There’s not much room backstage, and they’re all standing in waist-high water, so retrieving and storing the right puppets is almost an art form in itself!
See the video of the water puppet show from the other side, and read how they managed to get it, at Hanoi for 91 Days.