On 26th -31st August 2015, the London School of Puppetry (LSP) UK ran a week-long program on the Art of Puppetry in Education and Therapy, focusing on Shadow Puppetry. I ran this course with Caroline Astell-Burt, who is the school’s Director of Studies and author of “I am the Story“, a wonderfully practical manual for puppetry in teaching and therapy. She is also a dedicated researcher (she holds two MA’s from Middlesex University and Royal Holloway University of London in performance and performance research and is currently a PhD candidate at Loughborough University and looking at a rare form of Japanese puppetry called ‘Otome Bunraku’).
The participants included 4 kindergarten teachers from Boston USA, an Artist from Spain and students from the London School of Puppetry. They explored various shadow puppetry techniques through play – including body shadows, dancing with cellophane, operating large and small-scale puppets, creating miniature shadow worlds and recreating fairy tales using shadows. Part of the course also involved looking at how shadow puppetry can be applied to therapy. Caroline Astell-Burt ran a session on facilitating forum theatre using an overhead projector, as well as creating shadow stories with people with Special Needs. Kate James-Moore (from Commedia Puppets in London) also ran a session about exploring shadow puppetry and mental illness, which involved unraveling and transforming ready-made baskets (which was a reversal of typical ‘basket weaving’ activities offered to patients in hospitals and therapy).
I created a series of videos to show what the workshop participants came up with, which can be viewed here:
Playing with shadows (body shadows, exploring overhead projectors, trying out all kinds of shadow puppets)
Making our own shadow screens
Making coloured shadow puppets (using paper, paint, oil and PVA glue)
For more info about LSP go to www.londonschoolofpuppetry.com