THANG LONG WATER PUPPET THEATRE - AN IDEAL PLACE FOR A CULTURAL TRIP IN HANOI


07 May 2022

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is an ideal destination for discovering Vietnamese unique tradition with water puppet shows, which are the attractive “spiritual cuisine” of the Vietnamese people in general and Hanoians in particular. Thang Long Theatre has attracted a large number of domestic and foreign tourists over the years.  

Table Contents
  • I - Location
  • II - Top water puppet art & performances 
  • 1 - What is water puppetry?
  • 2 - Famous shows to admire
@HÀ THANH GIANG
Source: Internet

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre was founded in October 1969 with the initial name of Hanoi Kim Dong Art Troupe, then changed its name to Hanoi Puppetry Troupe in 1975, and finally was renamed to the current name. Thang Long Puppet Theatre is the only water puppet theatre in Asia owning the shows for 365 continuous days. The shows in the theatre have approached the audience in more than 40 countries across the world. 

I - Where is Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre located?  

thang long water puppet show

Source: @akinori watanabe

The puppet theatre is currently located in the heart of Hanoi at No.57B Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hang Bac Ward, Hoan Kiem District, right next to Hoan Kiem Lake. From here, it just takes you a few minutes to stroll around many famous tourist attractions in Hanoi such as Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi Opera House, and Bach Ma Temple,... 

A night tour to Thang Long Theatre, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Old Quarter, and Hoan Kiem Walking Street would give you plenty of exciting experiences. If you come before the Thang Long Water Puppet show, it is advisable to take a stroll around and admire the architecture of the theatre or enjoy Vietnamese coffee in a cozy coffee shop next to the ticket box of the theatre. 

II - Water puppet performances in Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

Thang Long Puppet Theatre Hanoi has many musical performances including dramas, singing shows, ground puppetry, stick puppetry, etc. Nevertheless, the most fascinating one must be the water puppetry which is the quintessence of the Vietnamese wet rice civilization. 

1 - What is water puppetry?

Water puppetry (Múa rối nước in Vietnamese) is a folk art form, dating back to the 11th century in the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam. This kind of unique folk art expresses Vietnamese tradition, social activities, folk techniques, and customs along the long-standing history of the nation. 

 

thang long water puppet theatre tickets

A performance at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre - Source: @X Lab

Besides that, water puppetry is a reflection of artistic creativity, bearing the common characteristics of the regional culture. It shows solidarity and mutual support in all aspects and activities of daily life, making it like the glue to strengthen the bonds among people.  

The most unique factor of water puppetry is using the water surface as the stage. Puppeteers have to submerge their bodies in the water during the show. Puppeteers at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre stand behind a split-bamboo screen, which is decorated like a temple facade, and flexibly control the movements of the puppets made of buoyant fig wood and painted with lacquer by using long bamboo rods and string. 

The contents of the performances are the games to praise the practices of farming such as harrowing, transplanting, fishing, grinding rice,...; entertainment activities vividly reflect the vibrant agricultural festivals such as wrestling, cock fighting, boat racing, swimming, buffalo fighting, swinging,...; stories to honor the patriotism of the Vietnamese people in history during the wars against the invaders;...

2 - Famous shows at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

thang long water puppet theatre hanoi

Source: @thanglongwaterpuppet

Each Thang Long Water Puppet show lasts about 50 minutes. During the show, you are provided with audio guides in 7 languages. The theatre has a capacity of 300 people at the same time. 

- Time: 3pm, 4:10pm, 5:20pm, 6:30pm, 8pm 

- Ticket: 100,000 - 200,000 VND/ person/ show ($4.3 - 8.6)

- For checking the schedules and booking Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre tickets online, please visit http://nhahatmuaroithanglong.vn

Some of the most typical shows at  Thang Long Theatre can be listed as:

Chú Tễu (Uncle Teu) 

He is the embodiment of a healthy, strong, young peasant, who acts as a narrator of the shows. The “comedian” can freely talk about any affairs and people in a sarcastic way. His frequent appearance makes him the “bridge” between the audience and the puppet characters.

Dragon dance, phoenix dance

Dragon and phoenix are considered the ancestor and mascots playing an important role in the folklore beliefs of the Vietnamese people

Herding buffalo, playing the flute

This show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre depicts the peaceful life of Vietnamese villages with the ear-pleasing sounds of the bamboo flute (by the shepherd boy). 

Farming

It reflects the daily life of the Vietnamese people such as plowing and harvesting, particularly the image of the hard-working farmers, which showcases the ardent spirit of Vietnamese farmers. 

Four Holy Beast dance

The Holy beasts consist of dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix, the sacred animals in Vietnamese folklore, expressing the operation of the universe. It also symbolizes a prosperous life, good luck, loyalty, and longevity. The dance of Four Holy Beasts aims at praising life, nature, and the universe.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre Hanoi is among the most outstanding places in Hanoi where you can enjoy the unique water puppet shows - an intangible cultural heritage of Vietnam. Besides Thang Long Puppet Theatre, you can also visit Lotus Water Puppet Theatre (No.79 Hang Trong Street, Hoan Kiem District) or Vietnam National Puppetry Theatre (No.361 Truong Chinh Street, Thanh Xuan District) for amazing water puppet shows. 

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