Ballyowen Meadows 2013/14 – Introductory Session 2

This shadow puppet on the right, made by Sarah Fitzgibbon for a Jack and The Beanstalk show as part of a workshop I facilitated for the VEC in the Seán O'Casey Centre, other sets and puppets made by members of the City Arts Squad

The “Giant” shadow puppet on the right was a big hit with the children encouraging them to use their own body shadows. It was made by Sarah Fitzgibbon for a Jack and The Beanstalk show as part of a workshop I facilitated for the VEC in the Seán O’Casey Centre 2010, the other sets and puppet were made by members of the City Arts Squad also attending.

Today I continued the introductory session for the rest of the school: four more classes. We had just 25 minutes with each group, with a very short changeover time between each.

Again the response to the three dimensional puppets was also largely enthusiastic but with some nervousness at times, although the majority of children did interact and seem to enjoy the puppets by the end.

The response to the shadow puppets was again however, more positive, whether because they had warmed up by then or that this medium particularly excited them is hard to tell. A lot of the children really enjoyed putting on the “Giant Mask” (pictured) which uses the operator’s own body and playing with their own shadows against the wall. I built on what had happened the previous week and used the shadow puppets and sets to interact with the children’s shadows, this was particularly successful with a group of older boys one or two of whom got involved also in operating the puppets and sets with a lot of active curiosity about how things were made and worked. Some children, however, took longer to warm up. Next week I look forward to a slightly longer session as we focus on two groups of six children, one of five year olds, one of six and seven year olds, who responded particularly to the work, following it, after five sessions with a further two groups of the older children. I wanted the groups for an hour but I have been advised against this so we are trying 45 minutes to see how that works.

Next week I would like to build on their response to the shadow work by inviting the children to set up a series of shadow portraits, creating ‘environments’, or simply colours, in which they would like their shadows to be seen, this can prove as an introduction to some of the materials and their resultant shadows and textures available to us if we go on to make shadow puppets and sets, but it will also be valuable as an end in itself.

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