ISTA presents...

Hong Kong (3) Studio - Bunraku

March 10 - March 10, 2020

Artistic information


Bunraku is a unique and revered traditional Japanese puppetry art form. This workshop will focus on the methods of performing Bunraku. We will cover the basic concepts of breathing, focus and fixed point. Working in groups of three, participants will learn to channel their acting skills into the puppet to bring it alive. Participants will create paper puppets and learn the three-person operation techniques of Bunraku puppetry.

Learning outcomes
This Studio will have a direct benefit for teachers and students studying the IBDP Theatre course- examining world theatre traditions.

IBMYP and other teachers will also benefit from the study of a world theatre tradition but can consider how they would apply this tradition to other units of inquiry.

All students and teachers will learn the various contexts of the tradition, practically examine the performance conventions and apply them to staging a moment of theatre, practically learn the techniques, skills and training methods of Bunraku Puppetry, and present a moment of theatre.

Target audience
This twilight workshop is relevant for all HS Theatre students and teachers. It will have particular relevance for students and teachers of DP Theatre.

About your workshop leader
Rob Warren
Hailing from the United Kingdom, I started my theatre education as an IBDP Theatre student in Frankfurt, Germany. I graduated with a BA in Theatre and Art from DePauw University, USA. As a university student, I was inspired by the words of Eugen Herrigel in his book Zen and the Art of Archery. This helped shape my future as a theatre practitioner and educator by giving me the courage to begin my study into Bunraku Puppetry at the National Bunraku Theatre in Japan. A practice which I have continued to study throughout my career as an international theatre educator.

Currently, I am in my twenty-first year of teaching at the Atlanta International School as The Director of the Arts K-12. I work to empower students and faculty to use the arts in courageous leaders who will shape their world for the better. I value the joy of learning and purposeful effort, in a mutually respectful inclusive intercultural community. I am actively involved in the integration of our STEAM program, Design-Based Thinking, the development of interdisciplinary units and project-based learning while fostering educational partnerships. I continue to be actively involved in teaching both DP and MYP Theatre and Film. I am a Principal Examiner for the IB and I currently sit on the review committee for the development of the new IBDP Theatre course. I have been actively involved with ISTA since 2003 as a teacher workshop leader, student ensemble leader and artistic director and I am deeply honoured to be a member of ISTA’s board of trustees to help move the organisation forward.

Session outline
Session #1
The basic principles of Bunraku
This session will cover the basics of puppetry and puppet construction. Looking at the core elements that are used to manipulate and build any object or puppet. We examine the role of improvisation and develop the fundamentals of puppetry – breath, focus and fixed point. We will start with puppetry exercises and group work then move into object manipulation. We will progress to operating puppets and looking at short improvisations. All participants in this session will leave with a strong understanding of traditional Bunraku puppetry and its relationship to the puppeteer.

Session #2
Bunraku puppetry, Furi and Kata
A Bunraku puppet uses three people to operate it. We will explore how Bunraku puppets convey more emotions than humans through kata and fura movements and mie poses. All participants in this session will leave with a stronger understanding of how flow and timing are essential in creating the bold and sweeping movements seen in both the traditional Bunraku male and female characters.

Session #3
Bunraku performance
In this session participants apply their understanding of Bunraku puppetry so far and the performance conventions of kata, furi and mie to a moment of Chikamatsu’s play The Love Suicides at Sonezaki. Participants will come to appreciate the tradition by engaging together in applying and presenting this Bunraku puppetry to a moment of theatre. They will come to learn how the puppeteer uses their body to communicate story through the puppet.

Session #4
Bunraku puppetry and devised Theatre
In this session participants will explore how you can devise using Bunraku puppetry and how that may differ from the more traditional productions. Each member of the group will have addressed the common problems that are presented by this style of puppetry. Moving around a stage and each other with the puppet, working with music, ‘performing’ as a puppeteer, combining puppetry and object manipulation and working together in improvisation. Participants will reflect on the impact this workshop has had on them as learners and performers and make connections to other practices they have studied. Participants will also have a chance to consider how they would explore this tradition further when returning back their schools.

Important information

School address
King George V School
2 Tin Kwong Rd
Ho Man Tin
Hong Kong

School website

The event starts at 8:45am on Tuesday 10th March 2020.
The event finishes at 4:45pm on Tuesday 10th March 2020.

Event Coordinator
Tom Scott

For participants
Registration is now open.
Registration closes Tuesday 3rd March 2020.
Places are limited, so please register early.
Participants should plan to attend the workshop in its entirety.
If travelling from outside the host city, please organise travel and accommodation accordingly.



Registration fees
ISTA members – GBP £175.
Non ISTA members – GBP £192.50.
Registration fees include lunch and tea/coffee breaks.

Please note
Any bookings or amendments taken in the six weeks prior to the event will incur an additional GBP £50 late booking/amendment surcharge, subject to availability.

Travel and visas

For participants
Local teachers will travel daily.
Overseas teachers will need to organise international and daily travel accordingly.
Overseas teacher will need to ensure they have the correct visa to enter Hong Kong.

For artists
Your EC will be in touch about travel details.
Please ensure you have the correct visa to enter Hong Kong.


For participants
Overseas participants will be responsible for booking any accommodation required to attend this workshop. We advise booking accommodation close to the workshop venue.

For artists
ISTA will book accommodation for artists for the required number of nights.


For participants
Lunch will be provided on the day of the workshop; along with coffee/tea breaks throughout the day.
Breakfast and dinner are not provided.

For artists
ISTA will cover all meals for the duration of the workshop.

Download & Forms

Please find below the relevant documentation for you to download:


Starts on Tuesday 10 March at 08:45
Finishes on Tuesday 10 March at 16:45 .


King George V School
2 Tin Kwong Rd,
Ho Man Tin,
Hong Kong


• Rob Warren