My name is Maria Bodmann and I was awarded an Artist in Residence (AIR) grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) City of Los Angeles to present “The Art & Craft of Shadow Theater” in Council District 12. These grants are awarded by Council Districts (CD) and the City asked if I could move my project to CD12 (an historically underserved district).

Please review this webpage and it's links to see if you feel my project is suitable for any community organization or venue you might know. Below this frame is a video demo (which accompanies my grant proposal to the City) as well as a detailed description of the residency, project goals, and my qualifications for teaching it.

The residency includes eleven sessions as follows: ten two-hour hands-on art and theater workshops, and one culmination performance.

Basic technical needs are as follows:
* The Culmination Performance can be presented a in theater or multipurpose room which can be made dark for the shadows.
* The Hands-On Workshops can be presented in any room suitable for art classes, such as a classroom or multipurpose room, with tables and chairs.

An information sheet with Technical Needs and Optimum Timing is available on request.

Please do not hesitate to contact maRia [818/837-9485] with any ideas, questions or requests for additional information. Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to working with you soon.

Project Description

“The Art and Craft of Shadow Theater” residency offers the ultimate multi-discipinary hands-on art experience combining drawing, carving, painting, group writing, acting, and ensemble performance. I, Maria Bodmann designed this holistic package of arts activities to give participants an intimate in-depth experience into this unique and rare art form which began in Asia over a thousand years ago. The twelve session residency contains background information and resources, plus a variety of diverse hands-on interactive opportunities, such as a shadow-screen to work on puppet manipulation and characterizations. During the first session, participants and the general public are invited to attend “Shadows of Bali” an ‘informance’ designed to take the uninitiated behind the scenes for an overall glimpse of Wayang Kulit shadow play, the inspiration for this residency. Subsequent classes investigate the diverse elements of the art form. At the first workshop, students make a simple character and complete exercises geared for successful group story writing. Participants quickly move on to more complex designs and original characters based on the emerging story. Soon they begin working on-screen in small groups, improvising dialogue and scenes.

They learn shadow play techniques in a traditional manner, through observation, imitation and repetition. They choose physical and emotional elements for the characters, including various personalities, movements, and vocal characteristics. Remaining sessions are devoted to completing characters, dialogue writing, casting, choreographing, and rehearsing for the culmination. The final two classes include a musician to coordinate the live accompaniment. Residency activities conclude in an exhibit and performance, when participants function as a theater ensemble and perform their story for an audience. I will be responsible for all aspects of the residency, including planning, recruiting, advertising, class preparation, teaching, and performance. I will provide materials, musicians, and assistants necessary to fulfill the obligations of the AIR grant.

The venue is responsible for providing a safe space and to help recruit students if possible. Because of the nature of making shadow characters and the sharp tools involved, students under 13 years old must be accompanied by an adult at all times. This inter-generational aspect of the residency enhances the experience for all involved as parents create art with their children. Previous residencis have included 3 generations, a daughter, mom and grand mom - it was wonderful!

Project Goals

• introduce the community to the art of shadow theater and the elements that combine to create it,
• encourage families to attend this residency together and work with a professional artist in a highly creative atmosphere while sharing art experiences inter-generationally which loosens up the adults and focuses the youth,
• teach participants to make shadow characters and perform a collaborative story as a team,
• provide free, quality, participatory activities in art and theater to people of different ages and backgrounds in a safe, healthy, positive environment,
• heighten awareness of the importance of the arts in the lives of Los Angelinos through direct participation,
• promote and raise cultural understanding, respect and tolerance by involvement in a cultural art form.


Since 1985, I have performed and taught numerous workshops in art, theater and music throughout Los Angeles, California and the USA, both as an individual artist and as a member of Bali & Beyond, a company of Los Angeles performing artists inspired by the cultures of Indonesia. I have extensive experience working in K-12, as well as university environments. Specific qualifications to produce this residency include: ten AIR grants to present “The Art and Craft of Shadow Theater,” five Youth Arts Services grants to present residencies in “Making Shadow Characters,” nine Outdoor Festival grants to produce the Celebrate Puppetry Festival, including activities with local middle schools, family workshops and festival performances, seven Regional Artist Grants to present traditional and contemporary shadow performances, and a COLA grant to create a new shadow play, all under the auspices of the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. In the summer of 2007 I joined the faculty of the Teenage Drama Workshop for their 50th Anniversary, where I worked with students in the cast of “James and the Giant Peach.” The students helped make new characters and learned complex choreography to achieve a stunning ten show run of the production. I have served as a full-time faculty member for the California State Summer School for the Arts (grades 9-12) for twenty years and am a three time residency artist for the HeART Project (grades 9-12 continuation). Highlights of my performance credits include: the Getty, the Hollywood Bowl, Here Arts Center - Soho, NYC, LACMA, the Huntington, Puppeteers of America Regional Festivals (Los Angeles and Phoenix,) Eastman School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory, University of Calgary, Evergreen State, Swarthmore, Haverford and Reed Colleges, Boston College, UCLA, UCSB, UNLV, New West Symphony, and many more.

I earned my BFA and MFA in Multidisciplinary Art and Music from Cal Arts. I was a Fulbright Scholar in Gamelan Music at the Indonesian Academy of Performing Arts (ASTI) and Shadow Theater in the village of Sukawati, Bali. I also received individual artist grants from the Brody Arts Fund, California Council for the Humanities, two ARC Grants from the Durfee Foundation and three Endowment Grants from Puppeteers of America. My shadow images are featured in Disney’s “Camp Nowhere” and MGM’s “Wild Bill,” as well as “Images of Singapore” a theme park on Sentosa Island. I served as a residency artist with the Music Center of LA for twenty years and two terms as president of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry.

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This residency is sponsored in part by an Artist in Residence grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles along with the generosity Bali & Beyond.