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Puppet Project:

The Story

Abby Lu / High School Senior
Shadow Puppet Enthusiast and Practitioner

Hello! My name is Abby and I'm a senior at Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Connecticut. I'm interested in Asian art history and the preservation of the intangible heritage of East Asia, such as types of Chinese puppetry. 

I connected with Mr. Wang Weiji and Shadow Puppetry during a visit to the Macha Village with the Bridge to China non-profit organization. Since then, I've been enthralled by the local art of Shadow Puppetry and became Mr. Wang's disciple. As an artist myself, I firmly believe that art should be shared. Historically, shadow puppetry was always available to the common people. It was made for the people, by the people! After months of culling information about Shadow Puppetry, I created this site. 


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I could not revisit the Macha village and spend more time learning under Mr. Wang Weiji. Determined to still pursuit puppetry, I connected with the Hong Kong Shadow and Puppet Art Center, where I studied not only Shadow but Glove puppetry under Mr. Wong Fai and performed as a member of his professional puppet troupe. I owe my current passion for traditional Chinese puppetry to both Mr. Wang Weiji and Mr. Wong Fai. 


My vision for puppetry is that it can connect the different cultures of Asia and the world at large. Cross-cultural arts like this can glue our world back together.


Picture with my Sifu, Simo, and other troupe members. 

Performance Experience:

Wishing to further my skill as a shadow puppetry practitioner, I joined a professional puppet troupe in my home city, Hong Kong. The Wong Fai Puppet Troupe has graciously taken me in as an apprentice, allowing me to perform alongside them as a puppeteer in various locations in Hong Kong. Starting as a backstage helper during performances, I have since then worked hard to become a puppeteer alongside my troupe members.

Below is a log of my puppetry performances in Hong Kong with the Wong Fai Puppet Troupe, including various local primary schools as well as community centres:


CNEC Christian College - October 7 2020 (Backstage Help, 1 Show)

Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre - November 7, 8 2020 (Puppeteer, 2 Shows)

Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre - November 15 2020 (Puppeteer, 1 Show)

Commercial for United Overseas Bank Limited - December 28 2020 (Puppeteer)

Buddhist Wong Cheuk Um Primary School - July 5 2021 (Puppeteer, 2 Shows)

St. Mary’s Canossian College - July 7 2021 (Puppeteer, 2 Shows)

St. Rose of Lima’s School - July 8, 9 2021 (Puppeteer, 3 Shows)

Good Counsel Catholic Primary School - July 12 2021 (Puppeteer, 3 Shows)

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Delia Man Kiu English Primary School  (Puppeteer, 2 Shows) - July 26

St. James’ Settlement - August 15 (Puppeteer, 1 Show)

Please scroll to the bottom of this page for media of the performances.

I was unable to take pictures of our performance because I was performing. However, I did manage to take pictures of our audiences as they trickled into the venue while backstage. Although you won’t be able to appreciate pictures of our shows, you’ll be able to see performing arts from a puppeteer’s perspective.

In addition to performances around Hong Kong, I routinely visit my teacher’s studio in Shek Kip Mei to help prepare/repair puppets for upcoming shows and recordings. I travel with my teacher to help him when he stars in advertisements around Hong Kong.


A favourite memory of mine is the meals that entail each puppet performance. Returning victorious form yet another successful performance, the puppet troupe eats lunch together in nearby Cha Chan Tings or back in our studio. Our meals range from dim sum feasts, takeout, to cup noodles. I feel that the meal is the compensation for my hard work because my teachers always cover the fees. Though I felt guilty and offered to pay every single time, they insisted that meals were gifts from them to me.


Our performances always elicit sincere ovations from our audience, from bright-eyed elementary school children to nostalgic elderly. The elderly school security guard at St. Rose of Lima’s School exclaimed that she hadn’t seen puppet performances since her childhood, her casual remark alerting me that more than just puppets, I held the fading memories of a generation.


Each performance in Hong Kong takes me back to twelve-years-old, in Macha, the first time I ever saw a puppet show. Although the puppets we perform with are of the Southern School, slightly different from Macha’s Northern school in the controlling rods and larger size of puppets, my excitement for this art persists. Just like in my memory, I saw our diverse audience connected through the common love of puppetry. From Buddhist schoolchildren to Southeast Asian immigrant children to local Hong Kong children, everybody’s eyes were enthralled by the same moving shadow even as their mother tongues differed. Acting as an English translator and the MC for shows in schools where children did not speak Cantonese Chinese (Delia Man Kiu English Primary School), I discovered that communication wasn’t confined to verbs. Communication happens when emotions are passed between people, and art is its perfect vehicle.


Stepping out from the puppet screen, I stand on stage in front of my audience after every performance. The children always point at me. “That girl is so young,” they would whisper to one another. The rest of the world seems to think that traditions dwell in the world of elderly.  Shadow puppetry is no exception. I hope that my presence secularises the sacred tradition for my audience so that they, too, will pick up the puppet’s rods and perpetuate our legacy.


I must give special thanks to Mr. Wong Fai, my Shadow (and Glove) puppetry teacher in Hong Kong, without whom my journey with traditional Chinese puppet arts would have been impossible. I am grateful for the opportunity to perform as a member of a professional puppet troupe around my home city. This journey has taken me down various crevices of an unexplored world.


Truly, art is meant to be shared. I make art for the people—my people.


Cheers to the preservation of Chinese shadow puppetry!

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