Chinese Theatre Works is the repository for one of the largest private collections of Chinese shadow figures in the United States. The core of this collection is the hundreds of historic Chinese shadow figures collected by Pauline Benton in the 1920s and 1930s, alongside the Pauline Benton Collection and the Molly McGuire Collection ( a unique set of shadow figures commissioned by Benton, that uses traditional Chinese shadow making techniques on western inspired designs) the Jo Humphrey Collection (assembled by the founder of the Gold Mountain Institute for Traditional Shadow Theater) adds an array of shadow figures from other world shadow traditions from Indonesia, India, Thailand, Turkey, Greece, and more.
Figures from the Pauline Benton and Jo Humphrey Collections have been shown in major puppetry exhibits in the United States, Greece and Hong Kong, and are available for research and public exhibition. Most recently, figures from our collections have been featured in “With and Without Strings” at Flushing Town Hall (curated by Stephen Kaplin) and in the “Puppetry of Shadows and Light” exhibition at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (co-curated by Stephen Kaplin).and the Bruce Museum (Greenwich, CT, curated by Leslie Asch).
An exhibition of Pauline Benton’s life and work, featuring many of her fine shadow figures and archival material from her company the Red Gate Players, will be presented at the Ballard Institute for Marionettes and Puppets at the University of Connecticut Storrs, opening on March 25, 2012.