Maria Macdonell + Harriet Grindley – Kamishibai – Thu 5 July 2018 (photographer Andy Catlin http://www.andycatlin.com)

A Japanese storybox tradition, where pictures slide in and out of a mini wooden theatre while stories are told to go with them.  I imagine them as the original ‘Ice Cream Vans’ as they would be attached to bicycles which would travel round the locality.  Instead of our traditional amplified mechanical jingle, the crowd was attracted using amazingly ear-piercing  hyōshigi or wooden clackers. The kamishibai operator would sell sweets to children before they settled down to watch the show.

I am utterly enthused by the possibilities of this storytelling form, both for its portability and for the storybook quality linking image to telling.  It is deceptively simple, as are so many of the best ideas.

Link to the video for our quick ‘starter for ten’

Here I am using illustrations from Sieteleguas in Spain : https://sieteleguas.es/en/kamishibai-pro-stories-big-a3/35-puss-in-boots.html .  Puss in Boots was one of my all-time favourite fairytales when I was a child and I still enjoy it hugely – especially with these great pictures!  Pre-made cards have been a great starting point but now we have started collaborating with other artists (especially Virginia Aspinwall – so many thanks for Dagba!) and even dipping tentative toes in the water drawing our own! May subtlety and imagination abound!

I have been making the boxes in my back garden – firstly the standard A3 size with its lovely doors and gorgeous red colour (emperor’s silk is its name which is pretty much storytelling romance in a jar), although lately we realised we were going to need a bigger box (!) to reach larger audiences in static situations/school classes of 30 plus! I still have ambitions to put a couple on the back of bicycles so we can simply turn up and play, but in the meantime our ‘ecological credentials’ are covered by putting the whole show onto trolleys and bussing/training and often walking to our desitinations!