Years 5 and 6 were given a real treat on Wednesday morning (10th March) when the Treasure Trove Puppet Company entertained us with its interpretation of The Legend of the Willow Plate.
In class we had looked at different versions of this old Chinese tale; sadly none had a happy ending! Some of us had even enjoyed a tea party, courtesy of the blue and white china plates.
The puppet show was amazing! The puppeteer, Mr Sharples, really brought the characters to life, with a range of fantastic puppets, all extremely realistic. We especially liked the Rich Old Duke as he was ugly, with a huge, warty nose. The heroine, Koong-se, was very pretty and delicate. Mr Sharples made the story really fascinating by adding lots of different characters – some nasty and some kind. The simple scenery was so clever that it made us feel as if we had travelled back in time to ancient China.
We all wondered how Mr Sharples managed to do all the different voices. He later explained to us that some actor friends had helped him put the voices on to a CD, which meant he could concentrate on working the puppets. We thought that this was really clever, especially as he had to move the puppets in time to the right voices.
We already knew that the Willow Pattern legend had several different endings. One of the versions we read in class finished with Chang (the hero) being killed by the Mandarin’s warriors and Koong-se burning to death in her house. This disaster did not happen in the show (Mr Sharples explained that he didn’t want to terrify his very young audiences) so he turned them both into love birds instead, after they had fallen asleep in a dungeon.
After the show we were able to ask questions and Mr Sharples showed us how the puppets worked. They had really clever mechanisms, especially the flying love birds and the East Wind. The main characters were elaborate glove puppets, made out of fibre glass and papier mâché. Apart from the lovely costumes, everything had been made by Mr Sharples, who told us that he spent six months in his workshop creating a new show, and six months touring around the country.
We all agreed that it was terrific entertainment and we can’t wait for next year when Mr Sharples will come back to Kingsley with his new puppet show.