The Art of Shadow Puppetry at Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel in Beijing
From: www.latimes.com Update: Feb.26, 2019 Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel in Beijing is a step back in time. Surrounded by a forest of ultramodern skyscrapers, this little inn is in a hutong, a neighborhood formed by a maze of alleys. Once you open the inn’s massive wooden doors, studded with decorative cast iron and heavy ring knockers, you enter a calm, modern space with clean lines that direct your gaze to the framed shadow puppet art that decorates the walls.
The mission here is clear: to educate guests about a vanishing part of Chinese culture before it’s too late.
UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage describes Chinese shadow puppetry as a “traditional performance art transmitted from generation to generation.”
Until now, it has been difficult for foreigners to understand because its dialogue was delivered through an ancient form of Chinese operatic singing. “Even Chinese audiences would not understand the dialogue without subtitles,” said Dave Bae, the hotel manager. “Now that the special kind of singing traditionally used is dying out.”
And those who are most skilled at this puppet artistry are now in their 70s and 80s, Bae said, and interest in the art is waning.
“Since Chinese people aren’t that interested anymore, we open it up to foreign guests. We welcome people from all over America, Europe and Asia.”
The 25-room inn provides English interpreters who help make the cultural offerings accessible to its guests. These include performances in the intimate puppet theater at the center of the hotel and several classes a week taught by master Mao.
Add: 24 Songshu St., ShiChaHai, Xicheng Qu, Beijing