Shadowplay does not resemble any of Tudor's other ballets and reinforces his own dictum that he never liked to repeat himself. Though there is no synopsis of the ballet, the program for Shadow play explained that Tudor chose the main structure of his ballet from Koechlin's "Les Bandar-Log" (1939), which is based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1894).
The theme of the ballet is growing up, or "a man's progression to a state of nirvana beyond the distractions and irritations of the world. The young boy is beset by the menaces of the jungle (the world) and its creatures of the trees and of the air. He is confronted by a male figure (Lord of the Jungle or his earthly self). He is successively charmed and threatened by the celestial (a chaste goddess or seductress). In the end, he achieves his peace (manhood) through an act of will (or the sexual act)." (Cohen, Tudor and the Royal Ballet).
Ballet Synopsis excerpted with permission from the Ballets of Antony Tudor by Judith Chazin-Bennahum.
Choreography: Antony Tudor.
Music / Composer: Les Bander Log Opus 176, sections from La Course de Printemps Opus 95. Charles Koechlin.
Libretto: Based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.
First Performance: Royal Opera House. Covent Garden. January 25th, 1967. Royal Ballet.
First Performance Cast: Anthony Dowell, Merie Park, Derek Rencher, Kenneth Mason, Lambert Cox, Keith Martin, Geoffrey Cauley, Peter O'Brien, Donald Kirkpatrick, Ann Howard, Marilyn Trounson, Frank Freeman, Ann Jenner, Jennifer Penney, Dierdre O'Conaire, Christine Beckley, Roslind Eyre, Diana Vere, David Drew, Paul Brown.
First NY Performance: New York. New York State Theater. July 23rd, 1975. American Ballet Theatre.
Notated: 1967 by Christopher Newton (Benesh Notation) 1984-1985 by Judith Siddall (Labanotation).
Number of Dancers: 9 Women, 11 Men.
Average Length: 27 minutes.
Costumes / Scenery: Royal Ballet of England, ABT.