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The world of "hand shadow pictures" created with hands and bodies, delivering a nostalgic yet fresh impression.

手と体で作り上げる、懐かしくも新鮮な感動を届ける「手影絵」の世界

The place where plays are born
File.4 Scarecrow “Hand Shadows ANIMARE”
Koichi Imai (editor writer)

Since its founding in 1952 as Japan's first shadow puppet theater company, Scarecrow Theater has been a leader in the genre of "shadow puppet theater", performing mainly classic fairy tales from Japan and abroad. I'm sure you've all experienced it somewhere, whether it's on stage or on TV.
Did you know that Scarecrows have an artistic side? "Hand Shadows ANIMAR" is that. "ANIMARE" is a Latin word that means "to breathe life into, to invigorate." In other words, ``Hand Shadows Animale'' is an omnibus-style performance in which various shapes are created using only the hands and body, and it feels nostalgic yet fresh and surprising.

We asked Kei Goto, the representative of Scarecrow , about ``Hand Shadows Animale''.

“It all started about 30 years ago, when a famous director asked me, ``You guys are a shadow puppet theater company, so why don't you do hand shadow puppets?'' Hand shadow puppets are extremely rich in expression. I think we should try because we can do it.
At that time, we mainly worked on shadow puppets using paper cut and wooden puppets. I thought of hand shadow play as a ``traditional game,'' and never thought that it would be possible to create a modern stage. However, since he told me that there might be some possibility, I decided to give it a try and started doing research little by little. As I learned that I could do this and that, my repertoire of hand shadow pictures expanded. However, since hand shadow puppetry requires a lot of physical strength, I thought it would be difficult to create an hour-long stage performance using just that."

Meanwhile, Kakashiza was considering making a full-fledged expansion overseas. However, when traveling overseas, transporting luggage takes time and fees, so you must travel with the bare minimum of equipment. This is an urgent problem not only faced by Scarecrow , but by any company that ventures overseas.
Mr. Goto also felt that, ``If I am going to go abroad, there is no point unless I try to create a work that is based on international communication, rather than the works that I have produced in Japan.'' Therefore, he decided to take on the world challenge with ``Hand Shadows Animale,'' which uses his matured hand shadow pictures to develop without dialogue, and is set to music in a speedy and sometimes danceable manner.
It happened in 2009 at the 8th Schwäbisch Gmünd International Shadow Theater Festival held in Germany.

``I had previously included hand-shadow puppet scenes in my work, but this was the first time I had done the entire film with hand-shadow puppets. Based on conventional wisdom, no one had ever imagined that it would be possible to create a work of time.First of all, I had a hard time changing my mindset.Then, one week before I left for Germany, I tried until the very last minute. After many mistakes, I finally completed the work.
The members who first participated in the festival in Germany all agree, but just by making shadow puppets by hand, the venue was filled with excitement. It was a wonderful experience, as we received tremendous applause during the performance. This made me happy because there was no other ensemble like this in the world, and I didn't know what kind of reception it would receive until I actually tried it. The response was tremendous, with many overseas festivals asking us to come to our place next time.''

After that, he participated in overseas festivals such as the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Finland, Czech Republic, and Brazil. Nowadays, there are about 100 types of hand shadow puppets in the repertoire, and 50 to 60 of them are included in "Hand Shadows Animale." Stages are composed of various combinations of them.

However, not all members of the troupe can participate here. Out of the 20 members of the stage department, five or six people will be in charge of the performance, as they must have outstanding hand shadow puppetry skills, have the physical strength to endure an hour-long performance, and have undergone a certain amount of Scarecrow training. Of course, the Scarecrow itself is also involved in the activities, so the performance of ``Hand Shadows Animale'' is a valuable one.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first performance of ``Hand Shadows Animale'', and for the first time in three years it will be performed in its hometown of Yokohama. It will be a fringe performance as part of the program of ``TPAM'' (International Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama).

``At TPAM, we are planning to perform in the standard format of ``Hand Shadows Animale.'' We hope that many local people will come, and that overseas directors will also see the joy that the audience enjoys.'' Mr. Goto.
Even people who have a biased image of shadow puppets will be pleasantly surprised.

*This is the stage of “Hand Shadows Animale”!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm2rWio8Td0

This event has ended.
《“Hand Shadows ANIMAR”》

■Date: Thursday, February 14, 2019
■Starting time: 16:30/19:00
■Venue: Yokohama Doll's House Red Theater
■Composition/Direction: Kei Goto
■Music: Kuni Kawachi/Hiromitsu Ishikawa
■Stage art: Hiroki Saito
■Costume: Keiko Nakaya
■Sound: Mamoru Todo (Sound Method)
■Lighting/Ryumae Stage Lighting Research Institute
■Shadow puppet art production: Kakashiza Theater Company Art Club
■Shadow art supervision: Kei Goto/Junji Oda (design Bee)
■Ticket price: All seats reserved 2,500 yen / 3,000 yen on the day, 1,500 yen for elementary school students and younger
*Free for children under 3 years old. However, if you require a seat, you will be charged a fee.
*This work is mainly aimed at elementary school students and above.
*TPAM participants 2,000 yen
■Inquiries: Kakashiza Theater Company Tel 045-592-8111

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