Vietnamese water puppet company in Hanoi. Now located on Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) in central Hanoi, Thang Long (Flying Dragon) Water Puppet Theatre was founded in 1969 as a company performing rod puppet, glove puppet, and European-influenced puppetry. It presented educational programmess for the northern government during the South East Asian War.

Later, in 1983, the group studied indigenous water puppetry with village masters, developing a more polished programme. The group began its international tours in the 1980s and this travel accelerated under Le Van Ngo who led the group through the first decade of the 21st century. The company moved into their current 400-seat house in 1993.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre offers multiple water puppet performances daily for local and international tourists. While the technique is traditional, graduates of modern puppetry training programmes largely staff the troupe and techniques are enhanced for modern audiences. Puppets are more finely carved than village models. Figures are larger for visibility. Music has been upgraded, as graduates from Hanoi music programmes become singers and musicians. Playlets, directed by Nguyen Hoang Tuan and others, are based on tradition: a fox stalks ducks, men fish, dragons appear spouting fire, and Le Loi (a hero who saved the country with a magical sword donated by a mythic tortoise that lives in Hoan Kiem Lake) returns the weapon to this totemic animal of Vietnam. Shows are less than an hour long. With over a hundred thousand viewers a year, steady income, frequent international tours (forty countries on five continents by 2010), and government subsidies, this is the major group defining contemporary Vietnamese water puppetry for urban and global viewers.

(See Vietnam.)


  • Foley, Kathy. “The Metonomy of Art: Vietnamese Water Puppetry as a Representation of Modern Vietnam”. The Drama Review. Vol. XLV, No. 4. Winter 2001, pp. 129-41.
  • “Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre (Nha Hat Mua Roi Thang Long)”. 2009.
  • Accessed 7 May 2012.