Shadow Plays

Shadow play as a form of artistic expression reached its peak in Germany during the Romantic full stop. It was a form of performance for adults: the play with light and shadow touched people with its expressiveness. Today, shadow puppetry has lost its importance, but is gradually being rediscovered as a wonderful activity in families, as a performance at family celebrations and as an enrichment for teaching. In the Waldorfshop we offer you online under our category Games & Toys a fine selection of shadow play figures, as well as everything it takes to make your own shadow theatre.

Shadow theatre - how does it work?

It doesn't take much to create and play shadow puppets: 

  • a sheet of paper or some cardboard to cut out

  • perhaps a template for the motifs of the figures

  • sticks to guide the figures by hand

  • a light source, for example a torch

  • a white cloth, for example a canvas or a sheet

  • an idea for a story, either made up by yourself or from a book& nbsp;

Shadow play is art!

Shadow play, also called shadow theatre, is ultimately a type of theatre and a prefiguration of film. A story is told with the help of figures led by players behind a light-coloured cloth, who cast shadows on the cloth through a source of light.

Who invented shadow theatre?

Shadow theatre originated in the Far East. The first Asian shadow plays may have taken place as early as the 2nd century BC. Written evidence of shadow theatre in China, India and Indonesia dates back to 1,000 AD.

The first figures were made of painted parchment, usually cut with many fine decorations.

Through traders, storytelling with movable figures then found its way to Europe via Persia, Arabia and Turkey in the 17th century. The oldest evidence of this comes from southern Italy in 1674.

The European shadow players used figures made of cardboard, wood or metal and placed less emphasis on their artistry than on outline and movement.

When the shadow play finally became more well-known and popular in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century, personalities such as Goethe, Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, Uhland and Mörike wrote plays and stories for the play.

The modern shadow play now allows the freedom to take up old traditions and expand them with new motifs and everyday occurrences from life.

Why shadow theatre?

Shadow theatre plays with the polarity of light and dark, black and white. On the one hand, the images are reduced to the most necessary, and on the other hand, it is precisely this reduction that creates a wide space for imagination, almost as if a dream world were being opened up.

For children, shadow play offers a variety of possibilities for expression. Even with kindergarten children, the topic of light and shadow can be worked on in a playful way, but especially for the older children in the middle school in the Waldorf School, creating their own shadow play can artistically accompany the physics epochs on the topic of the eye and light.

The shadow play can be used as an artistic accompaniment to the physics epochs on the topic of the eye and light.

In the family, children can give parents, parents can give children a wonderful experience with just a few things, by making their own simple form of theatre with characters and perhaps performing the story from their favourite book.

All about shadow puppetry in the Waldorf shop!

In our shop you will find sets of shadow theatre figures made of black cardboard with a wooden stick. With these figures, imaginative stories can be invented and performed by you and your children.

France is still considered one of the most important shadow play countries in Europe. It is therefore all the more fitting that we carry products from the Moulin Roty company. This cooperative works on the basis of the values of solidarity, sharing and respect. They create "toys inspired by the past, adapted to the tastes of today".

In addition, under Books & Magazines in our shop you can find the book "We play shadow theatre" with instructions from setting up the shadow theatre to making the figures and playing.

You can also find everything you need to make your own figures and theatre, such as silhouette paper, in our online shop.

Have fun browsing!