File puptcrit/puptcrit.0612, message 328

Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2006 12:49:22 -0800 (PST)
To: Pupt Crit2 <>
Subject: [Puptcrit] 19th Century Shadow Theatre

A brief rundown of "ombres chinoises".
   The first artist of this french version of Chinese
shadow theatre, examples of which were brought back in
the China Trade, was Seraphin, who began in Paris and
moved to the Court at Versailles. This form of
entertainment continues in France until the 1860's and
was revived in fin de siecle Paris at the Chat Noir,
an artists' cafe. Satirical sketches were performed.
Pioneer animator Emil Cohl also showed his early
hand-made "projections" there.
   Early in the 19th century, the form crossed the
channel and became part of  Raree Show street and fair
entertainment where the Punch & Judy show was
prominent.  Mayhew records in LL&LP that there were
intinerant "galanty" showmen who practiced it. Others
have reported that Punchmen could stretch a muslin
screen across their proscenium and perform  shadows,
possibly as indoor pub entertainment.  This may have
been a revival of a practice first documented in Ben
Jonson's late comedy, "A Tale of a Tub." written 200
years earlier.
   There were some shadows shows published during the
same time toy theatre was in its heyday, most notably
"The Broken Bridge,"  but also "The Cobbler" and "Dick
Turpin" On the continent during the second hald of the
19th century, very elaborate sheets of
Schatten-Figuren were published in Germany. Most would
have required expert cutting. Australia master
puppeteer Richard Bradshaw has done a version of "The
Broken Bridge" for decades. Another Victorian
amusement was the shadow show done with live actors
and props, which carried in this country as a staple
of Grange and summer camp homegrown entertainment. 

For reviews by Will Stackman,  go to ON THE AISLE  at

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