Fredericton Arts Flashback: Puppets From Japan!

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40 years ago, Japan’s PUK Puppet Theatre made its North American debut on the Playhouse stage. 

Chantel Crowell

40 years ago, Fredericton audiences were the very first in North America to experience a performance by Japan’s PUK Puppet Theatre company. With support from the Touring Office of the Canada Council, PUK’s 10 person performance troupe, complete with puppets of all shapes and sizes, made the 40 hour trip from Tokyo to Fredericton for two performances at The Playhouse on May 22, 1980. These performances kicked off a major North American tour for PUK that included dates across Canada, the United States and Mexico. The tour also included a performance at the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. as part of an international puppet festival. 

Japan’s PUK Puppet Theatre has been producing animated stage productions for over 90 years. Based in Tokyo where the company was founded by a group of recent high school graduates in 1929, the original company operated in secret as many of its productions were based around themes of free expression and anti-war. The company disbanded temporarily in 1940 and reorganized in 1947 following the Second World War. The company opened its own theatre in Tokyo in 1971 and continues to produce, perform and tour the world today. 


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