Jack and the Beanstalk

Shadow Theatre – Jack and the Beanstalk

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One of the group’s favourite stories was Jack and the Beanstalk. This is a tale about growing up:  pitting one’s wits against adversaries, overcoming obstacles and finding a place for oneself in the world. I could understand why those in my group would like this story and we went on develop this it into a piece of shadow theatre. It became a project lasting around ten months and was shown to everyone as part of the yearly Otterhayes Open Day.

Initially the group acted out the story as a piece of drama over several weeks in order to become familiar with it. Then I gave everyone the task of creating images of the characters in the story and selected the ones which would eventually become the shadow puppets. Of course, everyone had their own unique style of drawing and so no matter how unsophisticated the drawings, the shadow images took on distinct and interesting personalities when they became silhouettes on the screen.

The repetition of the story and group focus on images from it enabled a deeper connection to the narrative. We then ‘moved’ the images on the screen to make our own piece of shadow theatre and over several weeks created an improved ‘performance version’. In order to capture this, I filmed and edited down the footage.

The group created various pieces of music (mostly percussion) and another resident, Abbie Meach,  agreed to narrate the story which was recorded and added as a soundtrack. This and other attributes were added in order to make a presentation box version DVD which was finally given to each of the residents. It seemed that this piece of drama had worked well with everyone feeling good about owning the DVD of their own work. As circumstance would have it, this project paved the way for a more ambitious one.

Chris Hill, May 2012

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