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Jumping at shadows

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Plato famously compared mankind's perception of the material world to looking at shadows on a cave wall. Or perhaps he was just anticipating television. Either way, the finest shadow puppeteers can manipulate light and image to tap into our primal fascination with shadows.

One of the living masters of shadow puppet form, Richard Bradshaw of Bowral, Australia, brings his comic one-man show, Bradshaw's Shadows, to the Center for Puppetry Arts' Downstairs Theatre. Bradshaw first received attention in the United States by collaborating with the Muppets in the 1970s and was the subject of a documentary video hosted by Jim Henson in the 1980s.

Bradshaw's Shadows offers short vignettes with silhouetted images like a hippo on a high wire or Rodin sculpting "The Thinker." Casting images against a wide screen, Bradshaw finds quirky humor in folk tales, traditional songs and original sketches inspired by Australian and European cultures, from the ever-changing Blagg family to a marsupial superhero.

Bradshaw, who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the arts, also will offer the workshop "Shadow Puppet Magic from Down Under" at 11 a.m. Sept. 8, giving interested parties the chance to learn the secrets of such creations as "Super Kangaroo."

Bradshaw's Shadows plays Sept. 7-9 at the Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St., at 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat. and 5 p.m. Sun. $16. Recommended for ages 12 and up. 404-873-3391. www.vidavision.com/entertainment/macprom/brad.htm.

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