Saturday, August 21, 2010

Who is Joe Louis?

According to wikipedia Joe Louis was the Word Heavyweight Boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. That is a long time in Boxing, hence the longevity of his name. Then I arrived at my new school in Thailand and a local teacher told me something else. She told me that Mr Louis was coming to school. I was non-plussed. I read this a bit later: Sakorn Yangkhiawsod, (more widely known as Joe Louis), the founder of the Hun Lakhon Lek Joe Louis Troupe, was one of Thailand's top puppet masters and the country's last 'Grand Master' of small puppet performers. Six months ago someone warned me that there would be no culture in Southern Thailand. Well, Mr Louis' Troupe are coming to school. Will it be the Ramayana? Will it be similar to Japanese Bunraku? I went to Bunraku earlier this year, for the first time, expecting boredom. I nearly wept when the two puppets committed suicide. The three puppet masters evaporated before me. It is time to do some research. Here is a start: The Joe Louis puppet play requires the synchronised efforts of three puppeteers who jointly control and manipulate the one puppet creating highly animated, life-like movements. This enables the puppet to move or dance gracefully. Unlike any other Thai traditional puppet play, the Joe Louis puppets are able to mimic a range of human gestures and through these gestures, express emotion. For example, the puppets are able to move their wrists to 'wai' (a greeting gesture in Thai culture), or embrace (to show affection), point their fingers or clap, shake their heads or nod. The elegant movements of the puppet flow entirely from each motion made by the puppeteer. [ from the website in the link ] It is a beginning. It compares with Bunraku. Time to go here I think:

1 comment:

keiko amano said...

Hello Tim,

That’s a beautiful photo. It is unusual that puppeteers dance as well as their puppets. Don’t puppeteers get confused performing both at the same time? But come to think of it, I guess it is only natural for puppeteers to dance because their bodies probably react to the music. That makes sense.

Also, the name, Joe Louis, is unusual for the Thai traditional art. At first, I thought the former world heavy weight boxing champion retired in Thailand and tried to pursue his interest in puppetry, but the real reason was light weight according to Wikipedia. This is called myo, 妙 in Japanese. It means strange, but good.