Shadows, with their simplicity of requirements and strong power of evocation, are the most ancient form of theatre we can imagine at the roots of this humanity.
Countless are the sophisticated variations at the base of different oriental theatrical forms.
In our western society, shadow was the primal companion for dreams and nightmares in our childhood’s rooms, or served the purposes of spirit evocation; then was rationalized as one of the futile pastimes of the industrial society, as the silhouette cuttings or other optical and scientific diversions.
Before being absorbed by their most logical derivation, the cinema, shadows reached the dignity of theatre with the spread of varieties and vaudevilles, with a remarkable array of specialists, then punctually in the repertory of the most famed magicians of the golden age.
The poster here is one of the most bizarre stage derivations of shawdograpy, portraying a rare as unknown “foot silhouettist”. The poster comes from the 2nd Fechner auction, and is preserved now in the collection of some anonymous lucky buyer (even if we can speculate some suspect about his identity).
Today, as for many variety specialities, theatrical shawdography is living his extinction.
One of the last exponents, and maybe the most remarkable, is Arturo Brachetti, the greatest living quick-change actor on our planet. He learned the art from the indian master Prasanna Rao (that honoured me with his frienship), then he developed it in various way, and he still presents it in his enormous world touring one-man shows.
The video we offer you below is the version Arturo used in 1989.