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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Benjamin Parzybok: IMG A Brief History of Video Games Played by Mayors, Presidents, and Emperors

Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »

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Shadow Woman: The Extraordinary Career of Pauline Benton


Shadow Woman: The Extraordinary Career of Pauline Benton Cover


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Kansas-born Pauline Benton (1898-1974) was encouraged by her father, one of America's earliest feminist male educators, to reach for the stars. Instead, she reached for shadows. In 1920s Beijing, she discovered shadow theatre (piyingxi), a performance art where translucent painted puppets are manipulated by highly trained masters to cast coloured shadows against an illuminated screen. Finding that this thousand-year-old forerunner of motion pictures was declining in China, Benton believed she could save the tradition by taking it to America. Mastering the male-dominated art form in China, Benton enchanted audiences eager for the exotic in Depression-era America. Her touring company, Red Gate Shadow Theatre, was lauded by theatre and art critics and even performed at Franklin Roosevelt's White House. Grant Hayter-Menzies traces Benton's performance history and her efforts to preserve shadow theatre as a global cultural treasure by drawing on her unpublished writings, the recollections of her colleagues, the testimonies of shadow masters who survived China's Cultural Revolution, as well as young innovators who have carried on Benton's pioneering work.


The remarkable career of the American woman who became the world's first female master of Chinese shadow theatre.

About the Author

Grant Hayter-Menzies is the author of several biographies including Imperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling and The Empress and Mrs. Conger: The Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds. He lives in Sidney, British Columbia.

Product Details

Hayter Menzies, Grant
McGill-Queen's University Press
Hayter-Menzies, Grant
Biography-Artists Architects and Photographers
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37 bandw photos
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Asia and Far East
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » General
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Mime and Puppetry
Biography » Artists, Architects, and Photographers
Biography » Women

Shadow Woman: The Extraordinary Career of Pauline Benton New Hardcover
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Product details 232 pages McGill-Queen's University Press - English 9780773542013 Reviews:
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The remarkable career of the American woman who became the world's first female master of Chinese shadow theatre.
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