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Friday, 9 December 2016

Puppeteers and Musicians from all ASEAN member states gather in Ha Noi to showcase the “One ASEAN” Story

Ha Noi (09/12) – Thirty puppet artists and musicians from the ASEAN Puppet Exchange (APEX) collective will gather in Ha Noi from 9 -18 December 2016 to collaboratively work on the “One ASEAN” story to commemorate the first year of establishing the ASEAN Community. The artist-to-artist exchange is a culmination of nine series of APEX workshop across Southeast Asia that has started since 2014. The “One Story ASEAN” performance will take place at the NHÀ HÁT MÚA RỐI VIỆT NAM- the National Puppet Theatre of Vietnam involving puppeteers and musicians from all ten ASEAN member states with guest artists from Utervision of Japan. The exchange is co-organised by the National Puppet Theatre of Viet Nam and APEX’s Lead Coordinators, Artsolute Ltd of Singapore.

The eight-day exchange will result in the final demonstration of the “One ASEAN Story” that will be held on 17 December 2016 at the National Puppet Theatre of Vietnam. Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Mr Vuong Duy Bien will be among the list of guests of honour. The ASEAN Puppet Exchange promotes a two way cultural and people to people exchange that enables a greater understanding of the varied cultures in ASEAN through storytelling of the One ASEAN story in forging a common identity.

Visiting artists represented are Penggiat Seni Tanah Air Brunei - PeSTAB (Brunei), Wat Bo Puppet Theatre and Sovanna Phum Art Association (Cambodia), SENA WANGI (Indonesia), Jampalao (Laos), PESIBAN (Malaysia), Htwe Oo Myanmar (Myanmar), Teatrong Mulat (Philippines), Sri Warisan Som Said (Singapore), among others. Guest artists from Utervision of Japan will observe and incorporate ideas and ways of intercultural exchange to their practices in Tokyo. The One ASEAN story will build upon the storylines of the previous five APEX exchanges, namely APEX Fire, Water, Light, Earth and Live to form a cohesive ONE ASEAN story. It is the 10th APEX workshop in the past 25 months to bring ASEAN’s artists, cultures, stories and practices together.

“Until I got involved with this project I saw Southeast Asia as one culture which is quite a common perception in Japan. But now I have seen what diversity there is, and I really want to spread that knowledge back home,” said Erina Saji, Director of Utervision of Japan.

Meanwhile, Man Kosal, the Creative Director of Sovannah Phum Art Association from Cambodia, admitted that he was impressed with the diverse puppetry culture in ASEAN. After participating in a few APEX exchanges that promoted collaborative works, he was exposed to seven different puppets from seven ASEAN countries.

“I participated in three APEX workshops in Cambodia, Yangon, Myanmar, and the 9th APEX in Penang, Malaysia last October. Through these three exchanges, I started to learn and appreciate the similarities and differences of puppetry in ASEAN. I was so thrilled to discover many similarities we have in puppetry. For instance, Cambodia and Thailand, we both have similar large shadow puppets. I think this is what I found very interesting and useful from the APEX workshops, the learning process we have been through,” Kosal added.

The APEX collective is a membership of over 160 ASEAN puppet artists and practitioners who have come together to promote the mobility of artists and appreciation of ASEAN as one community. Since 2014, APEX has used puppet performances and workshops across Southeast Asia, from Yangon to Jakarta, to help ASEAN’s people recognise and understand the unity and diversity of all ten ASEAN member states’ cultures, stories and languages. APEX also aims to develop the work of ASEAN’s puppet artists and a long-term relationship of collaboration and understanding among artists within and outside of ASEAN.

“One ASEAN aims to bring together the tapestry of histories and roots of the people in ASEAN. It is no simple feat, not to be accomplished within the next two weeks, but I believe this to be the tenth of many steps towards a long and fruitful journey with our friends and partners in ASEAN.” APEX Lead Coordinator, Terence Tan, exclaimed.

With the support of the Japan-ASEAN Solidarity Fund administered by the ASEAN Foundation, the 10th APEX workshop is one step closer to the development of the One ASEAN puppet show and tour in 2017 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN. With this cultural treasure, APEX shall demonstrate ASEAN’s interconnected traditions and cultures, provides an overview of ASEAN as a region and to help develop new and wondrous art form for its people. In doing so, the project aims to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of ASEAN’s varied cultures so as to develop a common yet diverse identity to tell the story of One ASEAN.

“The ASEAN Foundation has been supporting APEX since July 2015 and it is great initiative to generate a community of ASEAN puppeteers to be self-reliant, culturally focused that takes advantage of ASEAN as a community of opportunities. Through its meaningful exchanges and collaborations, ASEAN puppeteers can gradually elevate their crafts and performances to strengthen a regional network of puppeteers in ASEAN who can not only identity themselves, to local and regional audiences but also to international spectators,” Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation Elaine Tan added.


For further queries and details, follow the journey of APEX at,, or write to Lead Coordinator Mr. Terence Tan at Factsheets and details on the ASEAN Foundation’s goals and activities are available on its website,

Contacts for the media:

Notes to Editor
About ASEAN Foundation
Three decades after ASEAN was established, ASEAN leaders recognized that: there remained inadequate shared prosperity, ASEAN awareness and contact among people of ASEAN. It was of this concern that ASEAN leaders established ASEAN Foundation during ASEAN’s 30th Anniversary Summit in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on 15 December 1997, ASEAN Foundation is an organisation from and for the people of ASEAN. The Foundation exists because of one vision: to build a cohesive and prosperous ASEAN Community. As an ASEAN’s body, the Foundation is tasked to support ASEAN mainly in promoting awareness, identity, interaction and development of the people of ASEAN. For more information, visit:

About Artsolute Ltd
Artsolute is a non-profit organisation that uses art as a means of social and community development in Singapore, Cambodia and broadly in Southeast Asia. Founded in 2011, it has supported the development and social needs of thousands of people in Singapore and Southeast Asia with its practices of empathy, creativity, and empowerment through various forms of art including drama, visual arts, puppetry and music. It also focuses on the training and development of youths and young adults through the arts as a means of empathy and innovation. Artsolute recently began operations in Cambodia, and intends to support local community and artist development from Phnom Penh, in collaboration with other established groups including Sovanna Phum Arts Association, Kok Thlok, and the Cambodian Living Arts. For more information, visit:

About NHÀ HÁT MÚA RỐI VIỆT NAM (The Vietnam Puppetry Theatre)
The Vietnam National Puppetry Theatre was established on 12 March 1956 under an instruction of President Ho Chi Minh. As a leading professional puppetry theatre in the country, the Vietnam National Puppetry Theatre has a contingent of noted artists such as art directors, playwrights, fine arts and plastic arts artists, sound and lighting specialists, many of whom graduated from universities at home and abroad. It has developed hundreds of big and small items of different puppet art forms such as water puppets, stick puppets, hand puppets and string puppets. The Theatre’s performance programs always play the core role in National Puppet and Stage Art Festivals and are highly appreciated in many international performance arts festivals. It won first prize at the Prague International Puppet Festival, held in the Czech Republic in 2002. As the biggest centre of puppetry art in Vietnam, the Vietnam National Puppetry Theatre has trained and helped many puppet art troupes in the country. With its great achievements, the Theatre has been presented with many Orders and Medals and other high distinctions by the Party and State.

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