02/18/2015 10:37 EST | Updated 04/20/2015 05:59 EDT

Beijing shadow puppets to illuminate Vancouver show

The world-renowned Beijing Shadow Play Art Troupe will be in Vancouver to celebrate the Lunar New Year with a showcase of an ancient form of Chinese storytelling that dates back 2,000 years.

Shadow puppetry involves performers who manipulate delicate, colourful leather puppets and various light sources from behind a white screen while singing and narrating.

Lu Bao Gang, director of the troup, says the art form began in the Han Dynasty, when one of Wu Emperor's most beloved concubines died. 

A concerned adviser made a puppet of the dead concubine out of a big leaf and then, using sunlight, projected her shadow onto a screen, Lu said.

"It began as an art form that was only for royalty," he told The Early Edition through a translator.

Vincent Wong, community engagement manager at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, says Chinese shadow plays often feature classic stories such as those from the 18th century-novel Journey to the West and other folk tales.

"We are definitely doing a big push to bring more interesting programming from China and authenticity to Vancouver," he said.

Light & Shadows: An Evening with Beijing's Shadow Puppeteers begins at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden at 6:30 p.m. tonight.