Filipino puppeteer helped create ‘Spirited Away’
Since its premiere in 2001, Hayao Miyazaki’s film “Spirited Away” has pushed the limits of what is possible in the world of animation. For 19 years, it was Japan’s highest grossing picture of all time, and it changed the public’s perception of animated films, showing that they can be more than just cartoons for children. It was also the first and only non-English animated film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Film (and the only one that was hand-drawn).
To a large extent, the story takes place in a cherry-red bath house located near what appears to be the gateway to another realm. She has to fight tirelessly to save her parents who have been transformed into pigs at the hands of a 10-year-old Chihiro. During her journey, she encounters a diverse cast of Japanese ghosts and deities that has captivated viewers for almost two decades. For the first time ever, these iconic characters can be seen on stage, due to the work of English director and designer Toby Olié, who supervised the construction of 50 puppets across London.
Yubaba’s bathhouse owner was Kayla Teodoro’s subject of six weeks of hard effort, and she was part of the team behind the scenes of the production.
A WhatsApp group of all Asian makers exists in the United Kingdom, according to Teodoro, and the actress who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter films, Katie Leung. For whatever reason, someone had put out the call for an Asian puppet maker. Friends invited me to the group and mentioned that Kayla was a “maker” and a “puppet-maker.” After receiving a phone call, they informed me that the project was for ‘Spirited Away’ and I had no idea what it was.’ Also, I was overjoyed since I adore the film; it’s one of my all-time favorites!