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A scene from "Marcach Dearg (Red Rider)," which will be featured at Shadows Across the Globe festival from July 9 to July 11. Courtesy photo
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Local artist to host international shadow puppet festival online

VISTA — The mastery of world-class puppeteers telling captivating stories with shadows will be on full display from July 9-11 at Shadows Across the Globe, a virtual shadow puppetry and storytelling festival.

Tania Yager, co-founder and lead director of Vista-based Twisted Heart Puppetworks, will host the inaugural three-day international event, featuring talks with an international slate of puppeteers, including Claudia Six (Austria), Richard Bradshaw (Australia) and Geoffrey Cormier (USA) and many others.

Each day features an all-ages show from 9 to 11 a.m. Starting on July 10, there will be an adult show from 5-7 p.m. The shadow puppet shows are free, but those interested in taking classes or listening to the artists’ talks can register for $20-$30.

The event will also be broadcast on the Shadows Across the Globe page on Facebook and YouTube.

“There’s been a lot of puppetry festivals … online, but nobody has done one that is geared toward this ancient form of shadow puppetry,” Yager said. “We got these big-name global artists.”

Most know shadow puppets in their simplest forms, such as a bird or barking dog.

A scene from “Horn and Heart” by Twisted Heart Puppetworks. Tania Yager, co-founder of Twisted Heart Puppetworks in Vista, is hosting Shadows Across the Globe, a virtual international shadow puppet festival July 9-11. Courtesy photo

But Yager and other artists present an array of complex shadow puppets using a variety of methods.

Yager started shadow puppetry seven years ago and later formed Twisted Heart Puppetworks. Yager also did a short film to benefit Vista’s Twisted Horn Mead and Cider.

“This is a grassroots movement and we’re trying to see what kind of audience we’ll have,” Yager said. “I do a lot of different of puppetry art … but shadow puppetry is my favorite.”

As for the art, Yager said it is believed to be dated back to ancient China. According to Yager, the first story tells the tale of an emperor who lost his wife. In an attempt to lift his spirits, a member of the royal court used his hands to project a shadow image of the emperor’s wife onto the wall. The plan worked and the shadow image brightened the emperor’s mood, Yager said.

“It’s unclear whether he was interacting with the shadow,” Yager said. “It’s the first tale of shadow art. Every culture around the world has its own form with a very specific aesthetic.”

Yager said the artform introduces objects or intricately cut pieces of paper to create shadows from a light source.

And in the modern world, Yager said contemporary artists are pushing the boundaries and finding creative ways to grow and diversify shows and audiences.