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The Puppet

Shadow Figure

(Alternate name: Shadow Puppet)

This category of puppet is manipulated from behind a backlit screen. When the shadow figure - usually two-dimensional - glides parallel to the screen, it blocks the light and creates a shadow on the side of the screen facing the audience. Shadow figures can be articulated or not. They can be controlled with vertical or horizontal rods, sometimes combined with strings, or - more rarely - held by hand against the screen. Shadow figures can be opaque, providing a silhouette effect, or translucent and coloured. They are made of materials ranging from leather to metal, cardboard to plastic, and even theatrical lighting filters. Shadow theatre is very popular in Asia.

Definition inspired by the Kenneth B. McKay book, Puppetry in Canada: An Art to Enchant, published by the Ontario Puppetry Association. Copyright 1980