There are many forms of puppetry in Thailand but none as unique as the wooden puppets of the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre in Bangkok. The name Joe Louis may be misleading but he is a second generation Thai puppet master craftsman who so happened to like the name of the famous boxer. The Joe Louis puppet craft has been handed from several generations down and are now under the kind patronage of HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand. This lost art of puppetry can be seen at the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre in Asiatique, Bangkok.
It takes years of dedicated practice and co-ordination for a team of three to six persons to manipulate just one puppet! The puppet’s movements mimic that of the puppet masters who are trained in the traditional Khon dance which is then applied to the puppet’s movements. This rare performance can only be seen on weekend nights at the Joe Louis Restaurant and Theater at Asiatique but well worth the effort to go and see it.
The amazing skill of the puppet masters make the puppet seem alive and you do not notice the puppet masters behind the movements. It is no wonder this troupe has the highest international awards in numerous puppet competitions worldwide. The most famous character is Hanuman the cheeky monkey who is always up to mischief as he mingles with the crowd and is a great crowd pleaser.
This is one of the best forms of Thai puppetry arts I have come across in Thailand right here in Bangkok and you would love posing with Hanuman or even bringing him home!
By Pen Drageon