Puppetry in Asia has religious connections: Stephen Thomas

Cultural Correspondent | Published: 22:45, May 13,2017


Stephen Howard Thomas

The US-born actor-director Stephen Howard Thomas has been living in Thai capital Bangkok for over a decade for acting and working as a coordinator of a Thai puppet troupe.

Stephen visited Dhaka recently to present an article titled ‘Asian Puppet Theatre’ at the Asian Theatre Summit.

His paper featured different forms and styles of puppetry in Asian countries like Japan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Bangladesh and others.

He also opined that these countries have nearly identical puppet forms for mixture of cultures and traditions.

Talking with New Age, Stephen said his interest in puppetry developed during his stay in Thailand.

‘I came to Thailand for the first time in 2006 as part of my tour of Asian countries to ease frustration that grew in me while acting in independent films in the USA,’ said Stephen.

‘Then I got offer from a Thai director to act in a Thai film’, said Stephen, ‘I accepted the offer and acted in the film “Who are You?”, which became a box-office hit. Since then I’ve been living in Thailand and working in films and TV productions,’

Meanwhile, he said, he came across a Thai puppet troupe and started working with it by coordinating different activities.

Stephen’s longtime attachment with a Thai professional puppet troupe helped him develop sound knowledge on puppetry of the Asian countries.

‘Puppetry in the Asian countries has some common features and loosely connected to religious affairs, which made those different from that of the contemporary puppetry of the western countries,’ Stephen said.

At the initial stage, he said, the western puppetry had connection with religion but changed their pattern over the years.

Stephen Howard Thomas appreciates the organisers of Asian Theatre Summit for giving him the opportunity to share views with other researchers on various issues.

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