With intricate hand puppets, expert manipulation and lively music, who needs words?

I Wan Jan Puppet Theater will perform “Cave of Fire and Cloud” at Flushing Town Hall on Sunday, July 14, at 3:30 p.m. The Taiwanese troupe, which consists of fourth-generation master puppeteers, will reveal (not tell) this classic Chinese tale through movements and action rather than words. Get ready for wild martial arts scenes and breathtaking facial expressions.

General admission is $14, but $8 for children. Teenagers can attend for free.

Cave of Fire and Cloud” is adapted from “Journey to the West,” a novel believed to be written by Wu-Cheng’en during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century. Considered to be one of Chinese literature’s four great novels, its best-known English translation has the title “Monkey.”

With 100 chapters and countless characters, the book relates the pilgrimage of a legendary Buddhist monk to Central Asia and India in search of enlightenment. He has three protectors and a dragon prince to help him, but he still encounters many trials and tribulations along the way. The plot is awash in magical realism, and the tale shows clear influences from Chinese mythology, folk traditions and religious philosophies. There’s some satire, too, including a few pokes at government.

Cave of Fire and Cloud” is recommended for ages 7 and up.

Founded by Li Tien-lu in 1931, I Wan Jan Puppet Theater incorporates Peking Opera-style techniques and classical Chinese music. The small but human-like puppets express all kinds of gestures, movements and body language. Instrumentation includes cymbal, dulcimer, drum, erhu, flute, gong and suona, which is a double-reed horn.

Troupe members will demonstrate basic techniques of manipulating Chinese hand puppets for maximum drama during a post-show workshop at 4:30 p.m. It’s recommended for ages 10 and up, and prior registration is required. General tickets cost $8, but $5 for children. Teenagers with ticket stubs from the performance can participate for free.

Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. It’s about half a mile from the 7 train’s Main Street station, and there’s parking on the street.

Image: Flushing Town Hall


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