Dolls, Drama and the Ties that Bind Discover the distinct charm of Japanese Bunraku and Philippine puppet play in PuppetXchange: Arts of Puppetry from Japan and the Philippines

August 05, 2016

August 5, 2016

FOR the first time in a long time, Bunraku will be staged in the Philippines in commemoration of the 60 Years of Philippines-Japan Friendship and the 20th Anniversary of the Japan Foundation, Manila. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM) proudly present PuppetXchange: Arts of Puppetry from Japan and the Philippines on August 16 (Tuesday) at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).

The one-day event will have two shows: matinee at 3:00 pm and soiree at 8:00 pm.  Both shows will follow the same format and have the same content.  A short lecture each will precede the demonstrations of Philippine pieces by the Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas (MULAT Theater) and the Japanese piece by the professional members of the Ningyojoruri Bunrakuza), an esteemed Bunraku group in Japan. Manila is the final stop for the touring puppeteers after performing in New Delhi and Kuala Lumpur.

In Ningyo Joruri Bunraku—Japan’s traditional puppet theater and a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage — the gripping story is carried out by an ensemble of a narrator, a shamisen player and three members manipulating one puppet. This theatrical form is a blend of sung narrative, instrumental accompaniment and puppet drama dating back to the early Edo period (ca. 1600) when puppetry was coupled with Joruri, a popular 15th-century narrative genre.

The Bunraku lecture and demonstration of the Japanese piece (Excerpt from The Red-Hot Love of the Greengrocer’s Daughter — The Watch-Tower Scene) are produced by Adventure JAPAN Inc. and AJ Adventure Japan & Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.

Meanwhile, the Philippine pieces (Ang Paghuhukom and Ang Awit ni Baylan) will be performed by MULAT Theater. Despite the little local puppet tradition to draw on, the group developed its own unique, evolving style as inspired by traditional puppetry of Indonesia and Japan. Furthermore, Ang Awit ni Baylan is a Joruri and Bunraku-inspired adaptation of a familiar folklore among the Manobo tribesmen of Agusan del Norte.

MULAT Theater was founded by Professor Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio in 1977, and has continued to produce and perform puppet plays and represent the Philippines in various international puppet festivals and conferences.

The puppetry link between the two theater groups will not be confined on the stage. There will also be an Exchange Program, organized in cooperation with the University of the Philippines Center for International Studies (UPCIS), to be held on August 15 at the Bulwagan ng Dangal of the UP Main Library, to be attended by local theater groups and performing artists and students.

The Japan Foundation was established in 1972 by special legislation in the Japanese Diet and became an Independent Administrative Institution in October 2003. The mission of the Japan Foundation is to promote international cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and other countries. As the18th overseas office, the Japan Foundation, Manila was founded in 1996, active in three focused areas: Arts and Culture; Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange; Japanese-Language Education Overseas.

Admission is free for both shows. For inquiries, contact the Cultural Center of the Philippines at (+632) 832-1125 or visit its website; the Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM) at (+632) 811-6155 to 58 and  Visit for updates.

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