Visual Idea No. 4 - Shadow Theatre

(This is a great idea given to us by Monica Watson of Rock Falls, Illinois).

A screen approximately 7ft high x 8ft wide is made from a frame, over which a large white sheet is stretched. Ideally the frame should be such that it can be assembled and taken apart easily. It can be constructed of wood, or alternatively of 1" PVC pipe and suitable elbow joints. The sheet can be attached to the frame using pieces of white velcro, which makes it quicker and easier to assemble.

A single spotlight light is positioned about 7ft behind the screen, and roughly 2ft off the floor. Some experimentation may be necessary to find the best size and position of the light. (Only one light source should be used in order to avoid multiple shadows). Children are positioned behind the screen to form a series of shadow pictures depicting scenes from the Christmas story. In order to get good shadows, the children need to be positioned as close to the screen as possible - i.e. almost touching it. With an 8ft wide screen, the maximum number of children per scene is about 4 of 5. (It is not possible to fit a greater number of children in by overlapping, because this will result in some children being too far away from the screen).

The children forming the shadow picture remain in position during a Bible reading, and then the spotlight is switched off and the next scene is prepared while a song is being sung. Props are used to make it easy to distinguish the various characters. For example wings help to distinguish the angels, crooks distinguish the shepherds etc. Examples of scenes that can be used are as follows:-

(a) The angel Gabriel appearing to Mary

(b) The sheperds at the manger

(c) The wise men with their gifts