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Shadow puppeteers manipulate silhouette figures to create the illusion of moving images on a screen. The shadows perform dramas, usually accompanied by music and singing, including plays that date back to the oral tradition.

Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin from Chinese Theatre Works will teach Queens residents more about this ancient art form during a three-session set, Puppetry Workshops: Shadow Journeys, at Flushing Town Hall on Jan. 8, Jan. 9 and Jan 15. (Each one starts at 6 p.m.)

Fong and Kaplin will teach the process of conceiving, crafting, and performing during these classes, which are suitable for all levels of talent and experience. Using markers, paper, wire, fabric, gel and small found objects, they’ll focus on the collaborative process as participants create short overhead projector pieces. The best ones will show at the fifth annual NYC Shadow Slam at Flushing Town Hall on Jan 16.

Attendance to one session is $15 or $10 for students, while a three-session pass costs $30 or $20 for students. Teenagers can attend for free.

Chinese Theatre Works is a nonprofit that was founded by the merger of the Gold Mountain Institute for Traditional Shadow Theater and the Chinese Theatre Workshop in 2001. In addition to shadow puppetry, the agency facilitates workshops in other art forms, such as toy theater, movement, face-painting, and hand puppetry. It has won the country’s highest puppetry honor, a Citation of Excellence from the local branch of the Union Internationale de la Marionnette or UNIMA-USA.

Historians dispute shadow puppetry’s exact origins, and many cultures practice the art form. However, according to one legend, a Han Dynasty emperor lost his desire to rule after his favorite concubine died more than 2,000 years ago. To help his boss bereave, a minister made a cotton puppet image of the concubine and created a rear-illuminated puppet show behind a curtain. The emperor loved it.

Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Blvd.

Images: Chinese Theatre Works/Flushing Town Hall

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