Water Stories. Song Ngoc Company and Canberra Youth Theatre.Canberra Festival in Glebe Park. Schools program: Monday March 10 - Thursday March 13, 1997, 11 am and 1 pm. General Public: Friday March 14, 7.30 pm. Saturday - Sunday March 15 - 16, 1 pm and 4 pm. Monday March 17, 1 pm. Bookings on 248 5057.
Surely among all these time-slots you can find one to suit. Water Stories is towards the Casino end of Glebe Park, but this is anything but crass materialism.
Song Ngoc has revived the water puppets traditional to their home village in northern Vietnam after decades of war threatened them with extinction. They have been brave enough to collaborate with Australian iconoclasts even to the extent that they have created a wonderful golden kangaroo as the ultimate down-under tourist pointing a camera at everything in Vietnam.
The young primary school children when I saw the show were as fascinated as the adults by the variety, and strangeness, of the mixture of Vietnamese and Australian images - created by puppets of all kinds and Youth Theatre underwater actors, with many weird things on their heads. Among the stories was one of sailing ships arriving on Australian shores, prior to and including the final invasion, seen from our Aborigines' point of view. Captain Cook's Norfolk Broads wherry might have come a long way to get here, but it doesn't match the beautiful barque, perhaps representing William Dampier, the model of which was crafted in Saigon.
In the Vietnamese tradition, the puppets are like dancers working in strict time to the music (which will be played live in the public program). For this show, Le Tuan Hung, with Geoff Grey conducting, has created an aural feast of imagery to match the puppets; and the Canberra Youth Wind Ensemble performs beautifully.
Youth Theatre Director Roland Manderson's efforts in bringing this show together need rewarding - maybe with more financial backing to help take it back to Vietnam to complete the cultural link. I'm sure the children there will be as fascinated as the children here - and greater multicultural understanding can only be of benefit to us all.© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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