The discontinuity of shadow play history in Western Europe shows that shadow play didn’t manage to really settle in this part of the world. Yet, it punctually aroused the enthusiasm of artists, the popularity of shadowgraphy and domestic little shadow theatres lived on from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century as well as the taste for visual and projection devices. Shadow play was actually at the crossroad of many practices (puppet plays, sales pitch shows, lyric theatre, cinema…) from which it hardly distinguished itself before being supplanted. Its mixed form must be the cause of this limited rise but also of its perennity : the equilibrium between scenic space and screen, text and image, that each show recreates, is specifically its attractive singularity for the artists who were interested in.
The studied plays come from European funds, from the end of 18th to the first decades of the 20th century. Their analysis will focus on their specific dramaturgy : how the visual dimension of shadow play, which dialogues with an heterogenous, popular and savant, set of representations (silhouettes entertainments, caricatures, Epinal images…), is taken into account in the text and the composition of the plays, in the adaptation of dramatic topical canvas and the choice of narratives. The historical and comparatist approach will contribute to a formal study of the original language and grammar coined by artists who kept a dramatic medium while transforming its basic components (space, gesture, bodies, speech…).
Key words :
Shadow play – Western Europe, Puppet play – dramaturgy, Pre-cinemaLast updated : 23/03/2022