Connecting to Culture: Creating a Paper Theatre in Your Journal

Elly here, adding my thoughts to the Season of Ubuntu.

We have all had weeks now to wrap our minds around the concept of Ubuntu and part of my thought process has been about the way different cultures have words that don’t translate easily into our own, and how our own minds and hearts change in our striving for understanding.

Throughout the world there are any number of words that describe concepts that do not translate tidily into English (as I’m sure our many multi-lingual Get Messians could tell you) Sisu and hygge spring to mind as other famous examples.

Language is an enormous part of how we as a society, express the things that are important to us. Our stories, our songs, even our very words. Studying, exploring, and employing new languages can help us to come closer together by offering insight in ways that mere translation cannot.

So as the Season of Ubuntu closes here, I hope that the concept will propel you forward to look for further connection to new ideas and foreign concepts spelled in hard to pronounce tones and sounds.

Connecting to culture: Creating a paper theatre in your journal


  • Thick paper or card
  • Colour – I use watercolour paint and pen, but anything goes.
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Stapler or tape


  • Complete your art, including any journaling before attaching the frame. It is very tricky to add writing in a tiny journal once it is all stuck together. Trust me.
  • Avoid using dusty or smudgy media like pastels unless you have an amazing sealing technique. They will smudge.
  • If you choose to use glue to attach your frame, use paperclips to hold it in place until the glue is dried or it will likely shift.

Connecting to culture: Creating a paper theatre in your journal

And Now

  • What stories from your childhood made you feel included and part of something bigger? How could you tell this tale in a paper theatre?
  • Search the Internet for words in other languages that we have no words for in English, create a pop-out theatre/room to pay homage to this concept.
  • Do you speak another language? How does knowing another language help you to connect to other people?
  • Create a paper theatre that sums up your experience of exploring ‘ubuntu’ this season.


Elly lives in Sydney, Australia. Her favourite part of journaling is being able to play. She loves being able to test out ideas, and styles, and mediums without pressure. This applies to the ideas she’s expressing too: getting to work through experiences and communicating opinions in a place that is fun, safe, and colourful.


  1. Clare Etheridge

    Wow this is so effective! The possibilities are endless! Thanks for sharing x

    • Eleanor McComb

      Thanks Clare 🙂

  2. Alyssa Rothwell

    This looks like fun!! Your theatre is so thoughtful, the concept works so well with it.

    • Eleanor McComb

      Thanks!! I do really love this story and it seemed like a good fit. 🙂

  3. Stephanie Graue

    Oh my gosh this is amazing! I absolutely love this idea, such a beautiful way to illustrate a story, it’s perfect.

  4. mauramagpie

    I just watched this video again. It is so very good, Elly. Your directions are easy to follow, and your little stage is beautiful. Thank you for sharing the Maori story and your thoughts on ubuntu.