During a sunny day in Droga Wolna democratic school, one mentor brought a very particular theatre structure made out of wood. It is called “Kamishibai”: it came from Japan ancient time and it is a form of storytelling. It was also used by buddhist monks to tell stories with moral issues to people. Our mentor told us that in the past, the narrator or storyteller of Kamishibai moved from one Japanese village to another by bicycle and once arrived, he usually invited people to hear the story. With always a big audience (adults and children), the storyteller started to tell his own stories using this wooden theatre. It looks like a square box with two small doors and once opened, you can see tablets or papers on which the various passages of the story are drawn.
When I was about to participate in the Kamishibai workshop at Droga Wolna, I thought it would be boring. You know, it was in polish, the narrator would have just read the story using pictures… I’d prefer puppet theatre! Surprisingly, when it started, our mentor was performing so good that everyone was fascinated. Suddenly, lots of kids and adults came to listen. To keep the attention and to attracted them, our mentor was mimicking the sound of nature. When she had our complete attention, she involved us in the dynamic: now, we were acting the sounds of nature (wind) and animals (lions). I enjoyed so much and I was really fascinated, also because after this, a curious process started with kids.
How to use it?
It is really smart tool because you can just insert the illustrated boards into the side slot of the wooden box and tell the story. The storytelling process is easy because each image has number on the back. While the narrator reads and performs the story, the public just see the images. You can buy some stories on internet but there aren’t much. The amazing point is that, once having the structure, you can create your own stories. If you have a strong cardboard, you can start to draw and paint what you have in mind. During our workshop at school, when the story finished, we wanted more but our mentor didn’t have. So, few smaller kids and me decided to share some ideas and draw new papers. We performed a story of a small “smok” (dragon) who decided to travel from his home, a very beautiful park full of flowers, to explore the sea with his boat.
Why you need to try
Kamishibai is an easy and cozy tool to tell stories and just do theater, at school, at home, at the park. A wooden craft that you can move everywhere and you can use with everyone, small but at the same time so precious. While you use it, a scenic place is created, storyteller and public are involved in the same story, helping each other in the creative process. Imagine to use is in your school, with kids… You can support them in developing lots of skills:
- Use of the body expression to communicate (playing with facial expression, gestures) in a creative way during the process of storytelling;
- Imagination: participating actively in a story or creating your own one (from the text to the pictures) let us create imaginary situations, alternative worlds which, later, we put into place.
- Connection between concepts and ideas (what you want to do) with actions (put idea into reality) and then reflection on the results;
- Expand the vocabulary playing and sharing points of view with others;
- Being in relation with people, collaboration, leaderships and responsibility (mostly learning to take into account the point of view of others, while creating common project);
- Cognitive skills as observation, analytical thinking, problem solving in creative and funny way;
Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Szkoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.
Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.