Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Thursday Night

ShadowLight: 50 Years of Shadow Theater

In person at the museum


Experience the cinematic magic of shadow theater with a pioneering local company and try your hand at this fascinating art form with origins in Bali.

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Larry Reed, dalang (shadow master) and Founding Artistic Director of ShadowLight Productions, will present excerpts from two films and demonstrate live “cinematic shadow theater” techniques and stagecraft. In conversation with the Asian Art Museum’s Associate Curator of Southeast Asian Art Natasha Reichle, Reed will tell the story of his work, beginning with his foundation in Balinese theater and moving through his explorations in cinematic shadow theater. Attendees will also be offered a rare opportunity get up close to cinematic shadow theater puppets and masks, led by some of the ShadowLight artists.


Larry Reed, Founding Artistic Director of San Francisco’s ShadowLight Productions, is a trailblazer in the contemporary shadow theater field. He is one of the first Westerners to have trained in the traditional Balinese shadow theater (wayang kulit) and is a dalang, or “shadow master.” After years of working in this tradition, Reed began integrating modern theater and film styles. The outcome was a “live animation film” — a completely original way of using shadows in theatre that is not culture-bound. Performed using a 15’x 30’ screen, these works orchestrate silhouettes of puppets, actors, and cutouts illuminated by multiple light sources to create cinematic effects live on stage.   


Jessica Nguyen is a science illustrator, educator, dancer, and circus artist turned to the dark side. Her favorite mediums are mischief and punnery, but she confesses that a bit of paper and ink will always lift her spirits. She currently works and lurks in the East Bay, where she loves waxing poetic about flora and fauna and bones and stones over a warm cup of tea.  


Fred C. Riley III is an accomplished puppeteer specializing in forms including marionette, rod, moving mouth, Czech black, tabletop, mask, and shadow puppetry. He has directed and written for the Center for Puppetry Arts, among others; choreographed for Ping Chong and Co.; and is the Artistic Director of Driveway Follies. He has taught movement and puppet theory and voiced many puppets, and has worked with ShadowLight Productions on performances for over a decade. 

Thursday Nights are supported by Wells Fargo.