Jerusalem artist determined to keep puppets on stage

Puppeteer Abdel Salam Abdo is seen with one of his puppets at the Palestinian National Theater in Jerusalem in this undated photo. (photo by The Palestinian National Theatre)

Jerusalem artist determined to keep puppets on stage

Author: Amjad Yaghi

JERUSALEM — Knowledge of woodwork, love of theater, fascination with puppets and the determination to save puppet theater from extinction made Jerusalemite artist Abdel Salam Abdo one of the leading figures in Middle Eastern puppet theater.

SummaryPrint Jerusalemite artist Abdel Salam Abdo pulls the strings in the Arab world to ensure that puppet shows are not a dying art.

Today, Abdo, 53, is pulling the strings to ensure that puppet shows will not be a dying art. He organizes workshops for young artists in Tunisia, Morocco, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The former director of the Jerusalem International Puppet Festival from 2000 to 2012, Abdo is also trying to get the Arab Theater Institute in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, to organize an annual forum for Arab puppeteers and puppet-makers, as well as workshops.

In his 27 years as a puppeteer, Abdo created memorable shows and characters that tell the story of the region. In his “Jerusalem and the Little Prince” show, he told the story of a Palestinian boy’s dream of living in Jerusalem. Through 20 different scenes, the Little Prince takes the audience through the Jerusalem monuments of the divine religions. Other memorable plays include “The Sneeze of a Magician,” which shows how people’s actions may backfire.

“Puppets give the director a more comfortable way to express ideas,” he told Al-Monitor. “Unlike in other forms of theater, there is not a direct contact with the audience because there is the puppet as the separator and…

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