Come and see! Puppetry in pictures. > Shadow play

Cover of a shadow play theatre, 1920In a shadow play, the player moves flat figures between a source of light and a semi transparent screen. The shadows thrown by the figures on the back of the screen are visible to the audience on the other side. Shadow plays can be staged with opaque figures, made for instance of cardboard or wood. Held directly against the back of the screen, the shadows of such figures are seen as black on the other side and they are just as sharp as a silhouette. If the figures are held at a certain distance from the screen, their shadows become larger, grey and blurred. It is also possible to use semi transparent, coloured figures for a shadow play. In that case, the colours shine through the screen. This kind of shadow play originates from Asia. In that part of the world, the figures are often made of animal skins that have been treated to allow light to pass through. In addition to being painted, the figures also have lots of little perforation holes to allow the light to pass through.

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