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Welcome to the Arden Theatre Company blog, where we share behind-the-scenes stories and current happenings with you. You will hear from the Arden staff as well as actors and other visiting artists, and we hope to hear from you, too. If you have an idea for a topic, please post a comment about it. We can't wait to hear what you think!

In Beauty and the Beast, we use a lot of small objects to create big shadows!  Those shadows create the rose garden, the wolves, Belle’s bed, and more!  Making shadow puppets of your own is easy, and a great way to tell your very own stories!  We asked Sebastienne Mundheim of White Box Theatre, who created all of the shadow puppets that we use in our show, to tell you a little bit about how she makes them so you can try it yourself! 

You can make a shadow puppet using stiff paper and a pair of scissors and a little tape or glue.  If you are older you might use an x-acto knife which is tool some people use for cutting very exact lines into paper.  I like just using scissors.

I start by making a drawing of a character or an object on the stiff paper.

I cut out the big outline first.

Then I use my scissors to cut out the most important lines inside the drawing.  I have to choose carefully so I don’t cut too many lines.

Sebastienne at work cutting puppets

Sebastienne at work cutting puppets

CHOOSING WHAT KINDS OF LINES TO MAKE:

I like to make lines that show the action, gesture or expression in the drawing.

That means lines that show where parts of the body might change direction.

Smiling mouths and eyes give expression and change the direction of the face. Your mouth and eyes have lines that express happiness, sadness, surprise.

If you turn your head, you can feel where your skin crunches together between your chin and your neck.

Or if you bend your knee, there is also a line on the back of your leg where the skin folds or crunches together.

I think about which of those lines tell the most about the character I am making.  Is it most important that my character is running?  Smiling?  Jumping? How do the lines I make show that?

For example, when I made the running wolves in Beauty and the Beast I made a very few simple lines to show their muscles and how active they are.

Some people like to make lines that show the decoration on something — the textures or patterns of clothing.  See if you can notice different kinds of lines in the world around you.  Ones that show gesture or expression or ones that show texture and pattern.

CUTTING

Once I have made my drawing I cut out the big shape and then I cut away the important lines.  For me those are the lines that show the most expression or gesture.

If I need to get into the middle of the paper to get to my line, I just cut straight to my line and cut away the section where I want the gesture to show.  I tape up the cut I made to get into the center.

I check my cut outs as I go by holding them up to the light to see how the shadow looks.

That’s the best part.  The shadows are always beautiful.

Different kinds of lights make different shadows.  We use a single bulb LED flashlight for our show.  It makes a really clear shadow!  But the sun makes good shadows too!

Take a look at these photos of us experimenting with our shadow puppets and lights to see what would look the best!

 

Testing some of the shadows used in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Testing some of the shadows used in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

YOU can make shadow puppets at home, just like the ones we use onstage in Beauty and the Beast!  With those shadow puppets, you can create a new imaginary world of your own and tell your own stories at home!  If you make a shadow puppet, have an adult help you take a picture of the shadow it creates and share it with us on social media! Make sure to use the hashtag #ArdenBeast so that we see your photo. 

Everyone who shares their shadow puppet photo with us will be entered to win four tickets to see The Jungle Book this spring.

 

©2009 Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122.
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