Ping Lin is a puppeteer from Bejing, China who apprenticed with Hobey Ford from October 2016 through March 2017. Some of us got to see her perform Animalia with Hobey Ford at LEAF this past fall. When Ping wasn’t performing and teaching with Hobey, she was hard at work learning to carve hardwoods, work with and troubleshoot controls as well as manipulate the rod puppets she created. She even created her own new show using miniature rod puppet controls. Her show is called On the Way Home, and you can view it here. Before she returned to China, Puppet Club and Street Creature had a chance to interview this amazing puppeteer.
1. How did you get involved in puppetry?
I got involved in puppetry, because my working experience and self interest. I started working with children and picture story books since I was graduated in 2009, designing all kinds of creative activities of different books for children, parents and teachers. One of the way was using puppets to tell the stories and create their own stories. In 2015, I got to visit the theatre festivals for children in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Austria and Belgium, there I began to meet artists from all over the world and saw good shows for children. Since then on I got the desire to create my own puppetry productions for children.
2. Do you make your own puppets and create your own shows?
Yes, I do.
3. What kind of puppet shows do you do? Who do you perform for?
My first production was produced in Europe and first performed in Vienna Austria and Barcelona Spain. I used table top puppets. And I toured this show in 24 cities around China in 2016. I performed for 3 to 8 years old children and their parents.
4. What are your favorite kinds of puppets to work with?
I had mainly worked with shadow puppets and rod puppets. And I like them.
5. How did you get to apprentice with Hobey Ford?
Puppeteers around the world like a big family. We got to share each other’s work and know each other through internet. Before I came here, Hobey helped me built a set a geese puppets while he was building his pelicans using the same technique by messages and photographs. It went very well. I knew he is a great puppeteer and a good person and he knew I have talents. After I finished my tour of my show, I asked Hobey whether I could come to study with him. Then we worked it out.
6. What have you been learning from Hobey?
I have learned building little rod puppet (monkey control technique) from Hobey. It is from Hobey’s teacher Clyde. I am now the third generation of this kind of puppet. I learned designing, making, engineering, manipulating different rod puppets and shadow puppets of Hobey’s and mine.
Hobey, Ping, and Clyde pose with their puppets.
7. What is the most interesting thing you have learned from Hobey?
Although using the same technique, every single puppet we are making, are quite different. You have to be full of solutions in your mind. Hobey has a sea of solutions. That’s because of his creativity and rich experiences. The more I have been working, the more problem solving skills I could get. Even though you couldn’t get the best solution now, always be creative and try different things and don’t be afraid to fail.
8. Have you done any puppet shows while you have been here?
I had performed several times of Hobey’s show “Animalia” with Hobey together in different schools and institutes in NC. And also performed our coproduction the Chinese Shadow show “Pu Tong” about Chinese paper cuttings in Kennedy Art Center in Washington DC and high schools in Asheville.
9. Is this your first visit to the United States?
Yes, this is my first visit.
10. What have you enjoyed the most about your visit to the United States?
Enjoy Learning and working with Hobey And living with a lovely American family that has two little kids and a big dog, enjoy involving in their daily life
11. Do you travel a lot? Where else have you traveled to?
Yes. I traveled around China and Europe. I had been to 10 countries of Europe, Italy, Austria, Belgium, holland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, Germany.
12. Is there anything else you would like to say about puppets, apprenticing with Hobey or your visit to Asheville?
This trip is my big fortune of my life. And I had a wonderful and great time here. I hope the relation, the connection, the friendship could last as long as it could.
Ping’s cat puppet for her new show, On the Way Home.