Is it possible to buy and sell one’s shadow? This absurd musical, which says that we can buy and sell one’s shadow, is based on the novel <Peter Schlemihls Windersame Geschichte> and written by Adelbert von Chamisso. The work depicts the evil and weak nature and desire of modern people, while at the same time elevating the noble values of humanity. The most noticeable point of the musical is the stage. It is made up with unique techniques such as a huge maze hanging from the ceiling and LED panels that utilize three sides of the stage like the ‘Screen X movie’. Let's check out the plot along with unique stage composition and how it all works together.
The main character Peter Schlemihl was ruined in his business and leads a very poor life. Then one day, an unidentified man in a gray suit, called Grayman appears and offers Peter to exchange his shadow for gold-producing magic pouch. There was no reason to refuse Grayman's offer because Peter’s shadow was not important to him when the magic pouch could bring him wealth. So, will Peter be happy after selling his shadow? The magic pouch that Grayman threw as bait at Peter had a direct effect on Peter's inner change. After selling the shadow, Peter was expelled and despised from society for not having it. Those who lost their identity and conscience because they were blinded by material desires were satirized as men who sold their shadows. Knowing that only money can never make him happy, Peter regrets that he sold his shadow and falls into despair. At that time, Grayman reappears and makes his second offer to trade shadow for Peter's soul. Only then does Peter realize that Grayman is evil and tries to get away from him. But Grayman's temptation pushed him into more trouble. Peter wishes to go back to society because he misses the woman he loved, but only a tragedy of losing everyone waits for him. Feeling lost, he continues to struggle with the devil who tries to take away his last soul, and leaves society to live with nature. Although he has not regained his intact shadow yet, he reflects on the past and begins to find his true value.
2. Stage Composition
- The maze hanging from the ceiling: The maze, consisting of boards with different shapes and sizes are installed on the ceiling, it sometimes comes down to the stage according to the needs of the scene. The symbol of it is the world of Grayman, where Peter Schlemihl is trapped. A place where Peter thought of as a path or a large stadium, it was actually a part of the world that Grayman created. In other words, it is a maze that visualizes Peter, who cannot escape from Grayman.
- A man without shadow: Peter, who has sold his shadow to Grayman, got wealth in return but he was ostracized socially. The important setting is the ‘shadow-less-ness’. The stage was specially set that audience can’t see his shadow on the stage. The floor of the stage was treated with a high glossy material, creating a mirror-like image of characters and objects. This not only prevents the formation of shadow, but also gives a deeper-looking effect on the characters. Because there is no place for shadows to form on all walls, LED panels were installed on the three sides of the wall to give such effects. Except for Peter, shadows of other people or objects are expressed in video, and there is an impressive part of the scene where only the shadow of the umbrella floats on the wall without Peter’s shadow. And they also express symbolic shadows through dancers’ movements instead of actual shadows.
- Fantastic video: Instead of minimizing physical sets, it actively used videos. The ‘Black Hands’ video, which was uploaded before the start of the show, symbolizes Grayman’s hands, suggesting that the world is under Grayman’s control. The sky and windows in the video also indicate the world in the hands of the evil Grayman which is a fantastic space that crosses the dimension.
The musical A Man Who Sold His Shadow depicts a self-portrait of modern people who are isolated due to the rapid development of material civilization. Many people are still at a crossroads between pursuit of various desires and moderation. In the reality of diverse temptations, it makes us think about what right beliefs we should live with. I hope that you can find important values and real identity in society where material desires are more valued.
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