Melbourne Cup Masthead

New play comes out of the shadows

Madeleine Wood

Direct from the USA, internationally acclaimed dance troupe Pilobolus are bringing their show Shadowland to the Canberra Theatre Centre this month.

Cast member Jake Warren plays multiple characters in the production: audiences will see him as an angry and disgruntled circus strong man as well as the front of centaur, landscapes and buildings.

“All the other dancers on stage shift and morph and play multiple characters throughout the show,” Jake says.

This show was created in collaboration with Steven Banks, who is the lead writer for Spongebob Square Pants. This spills into the piece, with Jake stating that it’s “cartoony which makes it relatable to a universal audience.”


Unfolding through shadows, dance, movement, acrobatics, and partnering, the story centres on a young girl’s universe as she comes of age and finds herself.

Jake says people should look forward to seeing something they haven’t seen before.

“It’s a blend of certain styles of theatre and dance that not very common in the theatre world,” he says.

“It gives people a really interesting way at looking at a story being told.”

Shadow theatre is the oldest forms of performance historically, Jake says.

“It was presented a lot in ancient China and ancient Japan, and gives you a lot of freedom to kind of move and create things that you can’t really create believably without the use of shadows,” he says.

“You can take; three, four, five people, put them behind a screen put a light source behind them and make literally anything. It makes our show incredibly adaptable to wherever we are preforming and make local images.”


Jake has been touring with Shadowland for four years, and in that time has visited over 30 countries. Jake and the rest of the cast are passionate for all types of people “to see a blend of certain styles of theatre and dance that are not very common in the theatre world.”

Musician, producer, and film composer David Poe is behind the rhythmic original score of Shadowland.

Where the dance and story come to life. Jake adds that it’s not just shadows, “there is a lot of live dancing, partnering, acrobatics, a lot of really interest ways of moving and presenting one’s self.”

“It’s a beautiful little story, that inspires a lot of self-confidence and a lot of self-discovery,” says Jake.

“[People will] walk away feeling inspired, excited not only about the arts and about theatre, but about themselves and about moving and jumping around.”

The essentials

When: August 30
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
How much: Tickets from $79.70


Madeleine Wood

Madeleine is a lover of coffee, baby animals, striped tops, pasta, pop culture, skiing, water sports, the colour black, indoor plants and of course, writing. She loves spending her free time out to eat with friends or curled up on the couch with a book and her dog on her lap. Coming from a family of farmers and country-goers, she often finds herself explaining why she has holes in her jeans at family gatherings. More about the Author

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