Written by Director of Performing Arts Centre at Keystone Academy, Allen Babcock
Wu Man and the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band’s visit to Keystone was by all accounts an inspirational and rousing success. In Middle Years Program Music classes, the artists shared perspectives on world music traditions and investigated how personal heritage and experience influence expression. In Chinese Thread music classes, the band discussed how adaptation can enliven a classical form.
As puppetry crosses disciplines so too did our guest artists with an inspiring practical lesson in puppet creation for the IB Diploma Program Art students and a masterclass for the IB Diploma Program Theatre students in shadow puppetry, a practice that occurs mainly in Shaanxi Province Huayin County, located in a small village at the foot of the Hua-Shan Mountain.
The class visits culminated into a Master Class, led by Wu Man for eight, very excited, young pipa players from Keystone’s own Yun Yin Orchestra. Finally, before what would be a rousing and moving public performance in the Performing Arts Centre, Wu Man and the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band performed a showcase for the full Grade 2 and 3 students.
If the layered and stimulating visit had to be distilled into one emblematic moment, it would be standing on the side of the Performing Arts Center auditorium and watching the Grade 2 and 3 students wholly enthralled as the artists performed a shadow puppet reenactment of a Three Kingdoms era battle between warriors Zhang Fei and Lv Bu.
It was truly a coming together of generations to share an important Chinese Arts tradition. We were lucky to have the Pipa Virtuoso Wu Man and the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band with us and look forward to their return to Keystone!