The Shadow Box Theatre
The Art of Storytelling
Story telling is an Art. Reading or telling the first stories to a child is one of the original acts of bonding between “mother and child.” To watch a child’s face as a story is being told is an inspiration in itself. When you are watching a class where a teacher is a good story teller, you know those children will be “hooked” on wondrous journeys of exploration into the world of “the story,” be it in the form of books, or theatre of all creative forms. From this, with proper nurturing, literacy will naturally evolve.
The Shadow Box Theatre for children was created to make “the storybook” come to life. The lights go out in “the house” and come on to “the stage”… and the magic begins. Between the metaphorical book covers, there emerges a painting of Drama, Music, Movement and Puppets. Watch the faces of the children for we are often the child’s very first theatre experience. We frequently have the honor of creating that first attachment with the inexpressible joy of Theatre. But the touchstone is “the story.”
From this premise, SBT’s shadow puppet shows were created, and all of the theatre’s expanded programming evolved. In what might seem like a convoluted route, teachers, children, parents, and caregivers wanted the story and music in book and audio form. Thus the theatre’s stories were published under See-More’s Workshop, as picture storybooks with accompanying CDs. Then, from the popularity of the storybooks, came the new two-person touring Story Book Theatre: Stories That Sing productions that brought the stories back into Theatre in a more intimate form. As a result, our workshops evolved as an expansion of our theatre programs, deepening the experience of the story, and creating a bridge between story and theatre. Thus the foundation was laid for a very exciting integrated program that served children on multiple levels. The many layered meanings of the story itself gave rise to enhancing literacy, creativity, skills, and values.
Now to focus on telling the story. Always start with “the story.” You can start with our stories but this guide is useful for the reading of any story. All our stories can be used as a touchstone to other stories, cultures and history. You read the story or have the children read it out loud. Then you and the children will begin a magical exploration.
If you are using our stories and audio, listen to our audio, or as you read aloud, listen to the sound of the words. The color of its sound. Is it bright? Is it dark? Where is it soft and lyrical? Where is it strong and powerful? What is its music and rhythm? What is the rhythm of the character? How do the words affect and create the character? How does it move? Do the words have a sense of shape? Can you move like the word? How does the word help you move like the character? What is the picture or visual that evolves? What physical place do the words make you imagine you have been transported to? What is the relationship between the words? Between the characters? What is the meaning of the story? The apparent meaning? The many underlying meanings? How does it relate to the child’s own experience and feelings? The child’s own culture? Out of the story build the understanding of the characters. In sound… in movement… in visual art. Make it alive. Make it all a creative experience. Deal with the non linear rather than the linear. Inspire the child. Celebrate with the children their imaginative journeys and their pleasure of following their muse.
Through this process, you will help fertilize the soil that will assist in the growth of literate, reflective, evolved, creative adults.