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SHADOW DRAMA, SHADOW PLAYS - HOW TO & RESOURCES

The following is a compilation of posts by members Deborah Diehl, SheilaB, Jaymie Derden, Amy Crane, Luanne Payne, and CreativeCarol. Your additional suggestions are welcome!

Peter and Jesus - breakfast on the beachshadowcross2



WHY USE SHADOW PLAYS:

  • Acting behind a screen feels exotic to all ages and gives them a degree of anonymity that allows them to be less self-conscious.
  • It's good for younger kids who can't handle much dialogue and for kids who are shy about speaking parts.
  • Narrators can stand to the side while shadow actors move or pose certain lines of scripture/action.
  • A minimal amount of costumes are needed.
  • Minimal setup.
  • They're fun to watch too.

SCREENS:

  • White Sheet - for a full body shadow play stretch a white sheet or white cloth between posts, walls, a double doorway, over the curtain rod of a stage, or hang from a drop ceiling. Use a method that will have the sheet reasonably taut and secure.
  • Plastic Shower Curtain: stretched on a frame and attached with big black office binder clips.


LIGHTING:

  • Shine a light on the sheet. The light goes behind the white sheet and behind the actors so that their shadows are cast on the sheet. The children act the play behind the sheet giving the audience on the other side the shadow image.
  • Make sure that your light is not too bright. Test out the light you plan to use to ensure that it does not cause blurry-looking shadows if students are not standing right next to the screen.
  • It should not get too hot and risk burning someone who accidentally touches it.
  • Use inexpensive clamp lights or a spotlight that sits on the floor.
    60-Watt Incandescent Portable Clamp Work Light    Spot light that sits on the floor

SCRIPTS


Shadow drama is usually done with narration, sometimes straight from scripture, or sometimes with an embellished drama script found here at rotation.org or elsewhere online. You can also create your own by looking up the story in THE VOICE version of scripture which breaks down stories like a script. You can see a good example of The Voice's translation/format for Lazarus' story here.

  • Children's Bible storybooks are often a good place to start too. Read the story, then have the kids re-enact it.
  • First, read them the story and discuss it. Then re-read the story and have the children take turns (may do it in groups if you have a large group) they act it out as you read.  You can add to the story drama by adding exaggerated movements to your dialog. For example, for the Good Samaritan... The priest RAISED HIS ARMS in surprise. Then he LOOKED SLOWLY TO THE RIGHT AND SLOWLY TO THE LEFT to make sure no one was watching...

shadow drama
OTHER OPTIONS:

  • Freeze Scenes
    Your shadow drama may also be done with "stills." In other words, the children get in position and hold that position while the narration occurs, like a photograph. Then for the next scene, they get into a new position and hold that position. (Have someone take photos of each scene and you can create a movie of your story.)

  • Puppetsthe story of Moses told using shadow puppets
    Shadow plays may also be done with puppets. For a puppet shadow drama the white sheet is just large enough to cover the front of the puppet area and once again is taut and secure and the light definitely shines from the back. Keep in mind when you are using puppets for the shadows, you may want to use a puppet that gives definition to the shadow.

    Read more about Shadow puppets at this link.

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Images (5)
  • shadow drama
  • Jesus carries his cross
  • Peter and Jesus - breakfast on the beach
  • 60-Watt Incandescent Portable Clamp Work Light
  • Spot light that sits on the floor
Last edited by CreativeCarol
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