The shadow Play is a form of theatrical art of long tradition , part of the pre-cinema works .
The term pre-cinema means all those experiments and entertainment related to the projection of images and illusory movement , dating from ancient times up to the first public screening of cinema , organized by the Lumière brothers December 28, 1895 .
The shadow play are a very old type of show (second century BC) which was played in itinerant theaters moved from one country to another , similar to “gabbiotti” of Sicilian puppets or marionettes . It was common to find these theaters near the temples during religious festivals , but also in laic festivals such as New Year’s day or at county fairs .
In the shows the figures can not be seen directly but, as the name suggests , you only can see their shadows.
The viewer stands in front of a white semi-transparent screen behind which the actors maneuver the figures and recite the various parts. A powerful source of light casts the shadows directly on the screen with the effect of get them bigger and make them animated .
A legend tells that the Chinese Emperor Wudi ( 140-85 BC) had become gloomy after the death of his concubine Li Furen . To console the king , his eunuchs did carve a figure in wood similar to the woman and projected the shadow on a curtain. The Emperor believing that it was the spirit of his beloved that came to visit him and feel comforted . Obviously today the figures are not more made of wood, but of leather , lighter and easier to handle.
Albertin Davide, Chiani Livia,
Monteverde Gelsomino, Vigoroso Lucia