“Last week I had the great opportunity to participate with the year 10-11-12 students in a workshop led by Nick Mahmat the BISWA drama curriculum specialist from Juilliard, NY. Students, teachers, and parents learned together about the use of shadows in theatre and how this technique affects acting, even in its simplest form of short storytelling.
We first discussed the various effects of light on objects, and then asked to imagine our thoughts and feelings in a given scenario and work in a team. Taking turns, we experimented acting between a source of light and a white screen, that portrayed our physical actions to the viewers. In shadow playing facial expressions, as well as voices and sounds, are lost. When expressive resources become so limited, you can only resort to your inner creativity to let silence speak through your reflection.
We then watched together a much more sophisticated use of what we learned about shadows in a silent movie production by a Chicago based company. We were all amazed by the level of creative results achieved through this theatre technique, and how much more work there is behind the scene that one can imagine.
I left the room with a sense of gratitude for having this rare learning opportunity, and for the privilege of sharing it with our talented children at school. I kept thinking about it. It brought to my mind something beautiful I previously read somewhere, and that seemed now to acquire a more poignant meaning: “the artist’s soul is like the sky and clouds, constantly building amazing shapes, now wispy, now tempestuous, completely blocking the source of light, then dissolving into brilliant clarity.”