International puppetry festival opens in Hanoi hinh anh 1Vietnamese puppetry performance at the opening ceremony. (Source: VNA)

A wide range of puppetry genres including water puppetry, shadow puppetry and mask puppetry will be featured in 18 shows during the fourth International Puppetry Festival, which opened at the Hanoi Opera House on October 10.

The one-week festival brings together 12 art troupes from Belgium, Cambodia, Germany, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, the UK and Vietnam. It aims to promote arts and culture exchanges among Vietnam and other countries.

In addition to their main performances in Hanoi, the troupes will bring their shows to other northern provinces, such as Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, Hai Duong and Vinh Phuc.

Water puppetry is believed to have originated in the Red River Delta in the 11th century, when performing guilds in nine northern provinces practiced the art. Evidence of the link between water puppetry and farming can be seen in the traditional puppetry guilds, which are located around the fertile land of the Red River Delta. This area consists of numerous rivers and is often prone to flooding.

Research by the Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre in 2005 showed that of the 27 guilds that worked from 1955 to 1976, only 14 remain active and most were unable to make a living through performance.

Le Tien Tho, President of the Vietnam Stage Artists Association, said the traditional puppetry guilds were in danger of becoming extinct, because many young people no longer wanted to become puppeteers.-VNA