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The world of ``hand shadow pictures'' that deliver a nostalgic yet fresh impression created by hands and body

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 scene where the play is born
File.4 Scarecrow "Hand Shadows ANIMARE"
Koichi Imai (editor/writer)

Since its launch in 1952 as Japan's first shadow puppet theater company, Scarecrow-za has been leading the genre of "shadow puppetry" by presenting mainly masterpieces of children's stories from Japan and abroad. I'm sure you've all come into contact with it somewhere, such as on stage or on television.
Did you know that Scarecrow has an artistic side? "Hand Shadows ANIMARE" is it. "ANIMARE" means "breathe life into, cheer up" in Latin. In other words, "Hand Shadows Animale" is an omnibus-style performance that creates various shapes with just your hands and body, and you can feel fresh surprises amid nostalgia.

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

“I think the trigger was about 30 years ago. A famous director said to me, 'Why don't you do hand shadow puppets, even though you're a shadow play troupe?' I thought I could do it, so I should try.
At that time, we were mainly doing shadow pictures using cut paper and board dolls. I thought of hand shadow puppetry as a “traditional game,” and never thought that it would be possible to create a modern stage. However, since he said that there might be some possibility, I decided to give it a try and started research little by little. Among them, I could do this, I could do this, and the repertoire of hand shadow puppets increased. However, hand shadow puppetry takes a lot of physical strength, so I thought it would be difficult to create a one-hour stage with just that.”

On the other hand, Scarecrow was thinking of a full-fledged overseas expansion. However, when traveling abroad, it takes time and money to transport luggage, so you have to move with the minimum equipment. This is not just limited to Scarecrow, but is a compelling problem faced by any company that challenges overseas.
Also, Mr. Goto thought, ``If you go abroad, you have to challenge yourself with a work that is based on international communication, rather than a work that has been produced in Japan.'' Therefore, I decided to challenge the world with "Hand Shadows Animale", which develops speedily and sometimes danceably with music without dialogue, using hand shadow puppets that have matured.
It happened in 2009 at the 8th Schwäbisch Gmünd International Shadow Theater Festival in Germany.

“Up until then, I had included hand shadow puppet scenes in my work, but this was the first time I had done the entire story with hand shadow puppets. It was something that no one thought was possible from the common sense until then.First of all, I had a hard time reforming that consciousness.A week before I left for Germany, I tried it until the last minute. After a mistake, the work was finally completed.
The members who first participated in the festival in Germany said in unison that the venue was excited just by making shadow pictures with our hands. It was a wonderful experience to receive tremendous applause during the performance. There is no precedent for such an ensemble in the world, and I didn't know what kind of evaluation it would receive until I actually tried it, so this made me happy. On the spot, various overseas festivals asked us to come to our house next time, and the response was tremendous.”

After that, he participated in overseas festivals such as the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Brazil. Today, the repertoire of hand shadow puppetry has grown to about 100 types, and there are said to be 50 to 60 works incorporated into "Hand Shadows Animale." Stages are composed of various combinations from among them.

However, not all members of the troupe can participate here. Out of the 20 people in the stage department, five or six people who meet the conditions such as outstanding hand shadow puppet skills, physical strength to withstand an hour's performance, and a certain amount of Scarecrow training are in charge. Of course, there is also the activity of Scarecrow itself, so the performance of "Hand Shadows Animale" is valuable.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first performance of "Hand Shadows Animale", and the performance will be held in Yokohama for the first time in three years. It will be a fringe performance as a program of "TPAM" (International Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama).

"I'm thinking of putting on a standard 'Hand Shadows Animale' performance at TPAM. I hope that many local people will come and see how the audience will be delighted," he said. Mr. Goto.
Even people who have a biased image of shadow pictures will be given a fresh surprise.

* "Hand Shadows Animale" is such a stage!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm2rWio8Td0

This event has ended.
《『Hand Shadows ANIMARE》》

■ Schedule: Thursday, February 14, 2019
■ Start time: 16:30/19:00
■Venue: Yokohama Doll House Red Shoes Theater
■ Composition/Direction: Kei Goto
■ Music: Kuni Kawachi / Hiromitsu Ishikawa
■ Stage art: Hiroki Saito
■ Costume: Keiko Nakaya
Sound: Mamoru Miyako (Sound Method)
■ Lighting/Ryuzen Stage Lighting Laboratory
■Shadow art production: Theatrical company Kakashiza art department
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 a seat is required, there is a charge.
* This work is mainly intended for elementary school students and above.
*TPAM registrants ¥2,000
■ Inquiries: Theatrical Company Scarecrow Tel045-592-8111

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