Marionettes come to Maryland Hall

Tour stop to benefit tsunami victims

Family: events, activities

February 10, 2005|By Ann McArthur | Ann McArthur,SUN STAFF

In the span of an hour and a half on Sunday, the entire family can witness an ancient Chinese art form and provide aid for victims of the tsunami.

But this deal comes with strings attached. At least 140 of them.

The Quanzhou Marionette Troupe from the People's Republic of China will perform Sunday at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, with all proceeds going to efforts to aid victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

The award-winning puppeteers will perform eight vignettes out of a repertoire of 700 traditional stories, legends, fairy tales and fables. Audiences can expect to be entertained and educated, said Betty McGinnis, president of World Artists Experiences, the nonprofit organization sponsoring the event.

"Adults as well as children can enjoy this rare art form, while learning about the colorful culture of China," she said.

The Quanzhou Troupe puppeteers have been manipulating the wooden men, women, spirits and animals for more than 50 years in 30 countries. Some members start training as early as 13 years old, because it takes five years to learn the basics and 20 years to master the art.

Quanzhou, a port city in the Fujian Province of China, is the birthplace of the Chinese marionette and an international puppet festival. The puppet masters sing while they maneuver 14 to 36 strings per marionette, which spring the characters into actions as complicated as opening an umbrella or riding a bicycle. In the traveling show, 10 puppeteers stand on boxes behind the marionettes and become a part of the intricate Chinese sets as they maneuver the strings, which can be as long as 6 feet.

The troupe kicked off its two-month East Coast tour Feb. 7 at the United Nations. The last-minute decision to sandwich Annapolis into the tour was orchestrated by the United Nations, the Chinese Embassy and World Artists Experiences, as a response to the tsunami disaster.

"It's such a rare opportunity to get to help in this way, and for people to see this ancient art form," McGinnis said. "And you don't even have to pay admission; just show up, enjoy the show and give a donation from your heart to the tsunami relief."

The Quanzhou Marionette Troupe performs 2 p.m. Sunday at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St. in Annapolis. Admission to the show is free, but a donation is requested to benefit victims of the tsunami. Call 410-647-4482 or visit

For more family events, see Page 37.

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