While the art of puppetry covers many quadrants, from characters drawn on hands to string-controlled marionettes to massive puppets which are operated by multiple people, the most mysterious of all puppetry types may be shadow puppets.
They live behind a screen, and come to life with light, and they've been around since the time when candles were our own source of illumination. Small at first, shadow puppets have grown in size and stature, thanks to technology.
And the production headed for The Ralph Freud Playhouse at UCLA is an ultimate example of the form. "Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic" is billed as "the largest shadow-puppet play ever performed," one that delves into a 10th-century story with a sense of huge scale (without losing that thrilling narrative flair).
What to do, where to go and what to see
It's on from Friday, May 27 through Sunday, May 29.
"Feathers of Fire" follows Rudabeh and Zaul, a pair of "star-crossed lovers of old Persia." Mythical beasties, grand adventure, and over 160 shadow puppets help the story to unfold in fabulous visual detail.
It's a story based on "Shahnameh (Book of Kings)," with a modern-day re-imagining from Guggenheim Fellow Hamid Rahmanian along with Shadowlight Productions and Mark Amin.
Hints of "Romeo & Juliet," "Jungle Book," and "Rapunzel" flow through the tale, say producers. If these old stories are among your favorites, and you've never experienced shadow puppets on a large scale, or any, sail your ship for UCLA over Memorial Day Weekend.