Shakespeare’s The Tempest, told through shadow theatre

School News June 29, 2018

Aside from the Beijing Opera (京剧), 皮影戏 - or Shadow Play or Shadow Theatre, is China’s best known theatrical export. When I knew I was coming to teach Drama at Wycombe Abbey International School I was excited to do a Píyǐngxì project! Every pupil in years 7, 8, and 9, and some pupils in years 10 and 11 study Shakespeare at Wycombe. The headmaster himself studied English Literature at university, and is a big fan of the Bard. As we approached the end of year exams, I decided to focus our Drama work on the plays the pupils would be writing exams on. To assist my 8Y2 pupils with their knowledge and understanding of The Tempest, I challenged them to perform the story with shadow puppets. To ensure we used beautiful shadow puppets, I asked 8Y2’s Art teacher, Ms. McLoughlin, to collaborate with me on the project, and I think you’ll agree the puppets the pupils created in their Art lesson are exquisite – thank you Ms. McLoughlin for your input! We divided the play into five key scenes, and each group were responsible for a scene. I gave them Shakespearean text to work from, and particular credit must go to Julia Zhou who played Miranda, and learnt her lines of the original Shakespearean text! It is no coincidence that Julia achieved the highest grade in year 8 in English Literature. I was really impressed with all of the pupils’ knowledge of the play and understanding of the character’s motivations, well done Mr Hamilton in the English Literature department! I hope you enjoy the show!

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