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Stories Through Shadows

Learn about Shadow Puppetry

Shadow puppetry is said to have originated in China and India thousands of years ago. A popular origin story tells the tale of Chinese Emperor Han Wudi, who became heartsick at the sudden passing of his wife. As the Emperor’s wisest advisor pondered the best way to revive the Emperor’s spirits, he passed some children playing with their dolls. The dolls made dancing shadows on the ground. This gave the advisor an idea. He knew the stories the emperor’s wife used to tell would comfort him. That night, the advisor invited the Emperor to the courtyard for a special performance; there he conjured the likeness of the late Empress by using a doll, a candle, and a curtain. He performed with such mastery that the Emperor was revived and went on to live a long life.

Join UMS artist facilitator Kelly Fielder as she takes us on a journey of ancient storytelling through the power of light and shadow. What stories will you illuminate?

To learn more about the history of shadow puppetry and how to make your own puppet explore the accompanying slides and worksheets.

Kelly FielderAbout the Artist

Kelly Fielder is a theatre maker, educator, and puppetry enthusiast. She received her MFA in Theatre for Youth and Communities from Arizona State University in 2020 and likes to think about how the arts can make people feel cared for. Kelly just moved back to Michigan after 5 years of living in Arizona and is especially looking forward to the fall and winter weather.

Thank You to Our Supporters

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

The 2022/23 Season of Performance Playground is supported by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.