These puppets are not your traditional Punch and Judy variety of puppet performances but rather a more intricate art form dating back to early Thai history where puppet performances were used to entertain the Royal families and at big ceremonies in the Kingdom of Thailand. Each puppet is about
2/3rd the size of a normal person and some are life-sized. It takes great skill to learn the movements of these multiple-jointed puppets in order to bring them to life in a performance.
The Joe Louis Puppet Theatre in Asiatique the Riverfront is one of the last vestiges where such performances are held. This puppet troupe has been awarded the prestigious “Best Traditional Performance Award 2006” in Prague and you can catch their performances nightly right here at Asiatique. There is also a gallery displaying a large collection of traditional Thai puppets in the show location.
Each puppet has been individually hand-crafted to represent different characters in a variety of plays such as the Ramayana, Rahu and the Lunar Eclipse as well as modern characters such as Michael Jackson. The ornamental dressing and headgear worn by the puppets are not only intricate but is a scaled down variety of the types worn by Thai people of old in all their fineries.
This puppet theatre is actually the last of its kind in the Kingdom of Thailand. The same troupe won the “Best Performance Award” a second award in the year 2008 attesting to the quality of the performance and the uniqueness of the puppets. You will be amazed by how life-like the puppets are on stage and it takes 3 puppet performers to control just one puppet! This is one of Thailand’s true cultural heritages that are now becoming a lost art amidst the influences of rock concerts and other modernized stage shows and plays. The Joe Louis Puppet troupe is known to be the only puppet troupe in Thailand to perform the Hun Lakhon Lek Thai and they are holding fast to being the sole guardians of this ancient art form.
The Joe Louis Puppet Theater is under the patronage of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana and the originator of this this art form Khun Sakorn Yang-keawsot was given the title of National Artist by the Commission for National Culture before his death in 2007. This puppet show is one of the most highly recommended traditional Thai cultural shows that is a must see when you are in Bangkok city. A tour of Asiatique the Riverfront will bring you to the stage location where the performances are held. Tickets for the Joe Louis Puppet Theater are available for booking online before a performance or in advance from the tour companies. So why not make it an exhilarating experience and delve into the culture and history of Thailand!