Shadow puppetry (or Silhouette puppetry, to be specific) is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment in India. In the past, stories from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Jataka Tales were told using this art form. The puppets were made of leather, and an oil lamp was used as the source of light. Today, shadow puppetry is used not only for entertainment but also as an educational tool. You can narrate
stories with your own hand-made puppets too; here’s how:
What you will need
• Cardboard (you can use the hard back covers of notebooks, or old cartons according to the size of the puppet character)
• Cellophane Sheet (colour optional)
• Thin sticks 20-30 cms. long (sturdy broom sticks or long pencils)
• Scotch tape or Fevicol
• A pair of scissors
• A table to use as the ‘stage’
• A plain, thin bed sheet to use as a screen with a string/clothesline to hang the screen on
• A torch
• A lot of creativity!
What you should do:
• Select the story you want to narrate (We will use the story of Red Riding Hood for now).
• Draw and cut out the outlines/ silhouettes of the main characters on the cardboard – in this case Red Riding Hood, her grandmother and the Wolf. Try to ensure that all the characters are not facing the same direction. Cut out holes for the eyes. Use cellophane paper to cover the holes and to add colour to the figures’ eyes.
• Paste the cut out figures on the sticks using Fevicol or Scotch tape.
• Hang the screen (the bedsheet) on a string or clothesline tied high at both ends. (Ensure that you leave enough space behind the screen for the torch, the table and yourself).
• Place the table behind the screen and the torch further away so that a shadow is formed when the puppet is placed behind the screen (rest the torch on the table or on a surface behind the table).
• Now hold the puppets up behind the screen (be careful not to shadow yourself!) and start narrating the story. (You may find it easier to crouch behind the table and hold your puppets at table-height).