The National Center for Traditional Arts will hold a special exhibition on the endearing puppet master Chung Jen-pi (鍾任壁) and his Hsin Hsing Ku Puppet Show Troupe (新興閣掌中劇團) in Yilan County from July 1, 2018 through Jan. 6, 2019.
Based in the Xiluo Township of Yunlin County, the Hsin Hsing Ku Puppet Show Troupe is a Chaozhou-style glove puppet theater established by Chung Wu-chuan (鍾五全) in the 19th century. This puppetry genre, which originated from Fujian Province, has become one of the oldest and most established forms of puppet theater in Taiwan.
From the Qing dynasty and Japanese colonial period to post-war Taiwan, the troupe has adapted to changes in an ever-fluctuating society by developing different performances such as street opera as offerings to worship deities, indoor commercial performances, and television shows. For over a century, the troupe stood testimony to the development of puppet theater in Taiwan.
Chung Jen-pi, the fifth-generation troupe leader, learned various puppetry skills from his grandfather Chung Jen Hsiu-chih (鍾任秀智) and father Chung Jen-hsiang (鍾任祥) since he was young. When Chung was sixteen, he could already take the lead in the most popular daytime performances.
Since 1982, Chung has actively participated in puppetry activities overseas as well as cultural activities in Taiwan. In addition, Chung is ever-dedicated to passing down the traditional art form through offering demonstrations and workshops at schools across Taiwan.
Chung had received several awards — including the Arts Education Contribution Award (Yunlin County), Life Achievement Award for Glove Puppetry (Taipei City), and Cultural Award for Special Contribution (Ministry of Education) — for his achievements and contributions to such traditional cultural heritage.
In addition to developing new repertoires, Chung also preserves numerous photos, cultural relics, scripts, and puppets that have become important cultural assets documenting the history of Taiwan's glove puppet theater today.
The exhibition will showcase the troupe's representative plays and puppets such as "Hero Pai Tsao Weng (大俠百草翁)," encompassing different eras such as classic and traditional puppetry, the lavish and dazzling style known as "Golden Light," and contemporary theater. The rich collection will help viewers gain insight on the troupe's history and its efforts towards passing down this heritage, as well as Chung's passion and devotion to glove puppetry.
Additional glove puppet shows by Chung will be staged at the Yilan Park of the National Center for Traditional Arts on July 14, 15, 21, and 22.
‘Master Chung Jen-Pi & Hsin Hsing Kuo Puppet Art Exhibition’