Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Toy Theatre Aficionado: Ulrich Chmel

A wonderful video of a toy theatre production by Ulrich Chmel of Vienna, Austria...

Here we see Ulrich with a nifty idea - a wearable toy theatre!  He appears to be doing some audio effects with a tambourine/drum and singing.  I think he is doing a demonstration of toy theatre at a school, from the context on his blog I found this image at.  It is all in German, and not very friendly to translation programs.

We find toy theatre enthusiasts around the world.  It is fun to meet others who love the same thing we do, even if all we can do and smile and nod!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Great Small Works: NEW SHOW!

We are delighted to announce that La MaMa, in association with Great Small Works, presents our newest show,  
Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls

From October 28th through November 6th, 2016.

Please come, invite your friends, and support this exciting project!
Did we say we are delighted?
Yes, indeed!

And we are also struggling to find the funds to make these performances possible. Any donation will go a long way toward paying our artists -- keeping flavorful modernist Yiddish alive! Asking useful questions in tough times! Laughing at jokes our ancestors laughed at (still funny and in translation!) 

moscow hotel

Great Small Works revisits the work of radical 20th-century New York City puppeteers Zuni Maud and Yosl Cutler. In a bilingual Yiddish-English play that uses Maud and Cutler's satirical puppet scripts and original graphics, together with Great Small Works' own puppets and projections, and appearances by demented dybbuks and Mae West, Muntergang is a meditation on historical models for changing power relationships.

Created in collaboration with the archive of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research by Great Small Works members John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine and Roberto Rossi.

With puppeteers Joseph Therrien and Sam Wilson
Music by Jessica Lurie and Hannah Temple
Lights by Meredith Holch; sound by Akeyjoa Ando
Script by Jenny Romaine

Nourish your queer political desire today. Enjoy this limitless non-normalized,  very open utopian vision of what's possible...

Buy tickets here
Make a donation here

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Gnomist

Deep in the forest of Overland Park, KS, little gnomes made a home. But how did they get there? This is the story of paying it forward, one little house at a time. A Great Big collaboration with filmmaker Sharon Liese and CNN Films, present The Gnomist...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ma'agalim (Circles) / Jane Bordeaux (Artist)

Jane Bordeaux, a band based in Tel Aviv, has launched a Hebrew language music video for “Ma’agalim”, using a rotating penny arcade entertainment machine to explore the concept of cycles. A wooden doll, stuck in place and time, is overtaken by every-day life scenarios. Finally the clockwork behind the scenes comes to a breaking point, sending the doll and all the characters into a new dimension. 
- From the Inspiration Room
Life certainly does seem like a matter of just going in circles day after day, especially as you get older. This delightful animation also has a deeper more melancholy message. The lyrics are translated, below...

Translated from Hebrew

Nights turns into days
Days turn into years
And inside them I am going
Fast and in circles
Winds are blowing at me
Blowing down my neck
Everything seems too far
Oversizing me

It’s not me that’s progressing
It’s just the time that’s moving on
It’s just another passing train
It’s a further tightening rope

Sunrises sinking fast
Seasons passing more
And I am the same
while the time is cutting short

Sunday, June 19, 2016

West End Live: Pollock's Life-Size Alice!

As they do every year, Pollock's Toy Shop has set up a stage right along with the big guys they were originally modeled after (pun intended) at West End Live! all this weekend.

On their Instagram, they posted that, "We'll be down at Trafalgar Square all weekend with our giant life size #AliceinWonderland extravaganza - come and be photographed down the rabbit hole..."

The Mad Hatter strikes a pose during a break in the tea party...
[Source:  Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop Instagram]

"I'll be 'mother', shall I?" asks the Mad Hatter...
[Source:  Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop Instagram]

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tunnel Book: Zombifying a Classic

When watching a recent film entitled, Pride + Prejudice + Zombies, I was enchanted by its opening prologue...

In keeping with Regency-era authenticity, the prologue unfolds through a tunnel book, providing a theatrical stage for the fictional narrative to take place. Working with satirical newspaper cartoonist Martin Rowson, Ben and team transformed hand drawn illustrations into 3D animations, intricately rendered and paced to the prologue’s voice over narration...Pride + Prejudice + Zombies was all done in 3D, the team worked hard to recreate the visceral and dusty reality of a regency tunnel book, they added creases, paper texture, flickering candle light, jerky animation, lens distortion and depth. - The Mill
A wonderful article about the "world-building mashup".

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Life-Size Dolls/Puppets Wander About London

The incredibly realistic 4' 7” high living dolls were played by two models who spent over three hours
being transformed by a top team of stylists, costume designers, make-up artists, and dressers.
[Photo Credit:  Tim Anderson/Taylor Herring]

A publicity stunt for a decidedly unique theme park ride - part of the world’s first psychological theme park - utilized life-sized dolls that resembled string-less, multi-jointed marionette puppets.

They wandered around London in December, in anticipation of the opening of the new ride some time this spring.

[Photo Credit:  Tim Anderson/Taylor Herring]

Friday, January 29, 2016

Toy Theatre Magazine

To read, click to enlarge

Do you know the free, Web-magazine "EUROPEAN PAPER THEATRE"?

Published in Denmark, Sven-Erik Olsen shares:

Since January 2015 we have issued that magazine with the title "Modelteater-nyt", but now we have changed the name because we have more and more international readers. With our magazine you will have quick and easy access to all the news within the paper theatre all over the world.

Last year we totally produced 200 A4-pages in 12 monthly issues - and - best of it all - it's free to subscribe!

Send an e-mail to: and you will all ready to receive the first 20-page issue coming Sunday the 31st of January.

Here is a preview at the front page for the issue of this month.

Monday, January 25, 2016

National Geographic: Paper History

In the latest edition of the National Geographic magazine, they examine the history being uncovered in the latest 'big dig' under London.  The paper animation below, commissioned by the National Geographic Society, brilliantly summarizes it.  However, I urge you to read more here...

Friday, January 01, 2016

NOTICE: Blog Subscription - Changes

FYI to all readers of this blog who subscribe via the "Google Friend Connect" on the right-hand sidebar on my blog:

Starting the week of January 11, Google will remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, they will remove non-Google Account profiles.  I don't want to lose any of my subscribers, and I'm sure you don't want to lose your subscription to one of the newsiest blogs on all things toy theatre and related!
If you use a non-Google Account to follow my blog, you will need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow the blog. With a Google Account, you'll get blogs added to your Reading List, making it easier for you to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs you follow.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Feature: Little Theatre of Dolls

I've discovered an exciting duo of performers, named Raisa Veikkola and Frida Alvinzi.  I love how they are willing to use old-style ideas and make them really pop!!

Take a look at the still shots below, followed by two videos, to get a taste of what they have done so far...

The Holy Dress is a creation story that draws on ancient cosmic origination myths. From a universal egg a thought was born that evolves into Eve and Adam.

This story of creation happens inside of a dress and both puppeteers are stuck inside. They work as the dual forces: the night and day, dark and light,good and evil manipulate the elements of creation.

In beautifully crafted sceneries the audience gets to experience magical realities and stories acted by exquisite hand made puppets that all have been created by The Little Theatre of Dolls.

- Dolly of London

The Story Machine is a magical technicolor love story about a girl and a boy trapped inside a television with nothing but objects of desire. Using puppets and live action, The Little Theatre of Dolls has created a surreal world made out of recycled materials and charity shop treasures - and in this world anything is possible. The Story Machine is also a satire of our world of consumer-driven greed.

The puppeteers shown as the mystical masters of the universe seem to know the secrets of the story they tell, using the machine as the tool of creation. The piece shows the confusion in being human and over the collective consciousness of memories. The machine wants to transform the characters into what they desire; to transform it's victims and to make them transcend between worlds and to constantly capture their imagination.

- Dolly of London

The Story Machine from Raisa Veikkola & Frida Alvinzi on Vimeo.

The Holy Dress from Rainstar Boutique on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Toy Theatre in Theatre: A Christmas Carol

Set design for A Christmas Carol by Tom Pye for Phelim McDermott's production...
[Courtesy: Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop]

Much of the evening’s enchantment springs from Phelim McDermott’s inventive direction, which plays deliciously with theatrical conventions, setting the action within a Pollock’s toy theatre (beautifully designed by Tom Pye), and then shattering the fourth wall with direct address...  
- Theatre Review, Sunday Daily Express [20 Dec 2015]
A must-see on the London stage through January 30th, this production of the classic tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL incorporates strong elements of toy theatre.

Up, Up, and Awaaaaaaay!

The ghosts who show Scrooge what a miser he has become are brilliant

Press Night curtain call showing part of the life-size 'toy theatre' proscenium

Close-up of 'toy theatre' curtain behind actors as they take a Press Night curtain call

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Anomalisa: Stop Motion Alive & Well

Anomalisa co-director Duke Johnson, setting up a shot...

Movie Poster [Click to enlarge]
An amazing stop-motion film is about to be released, entitled "Anomalisa".

It's nice to see the older technologies still not only being done, but being done brilliantly.

It's a painstaking process, taking much longer to set up and film shots than in live-action.  But if done right, it's something very special.

In one of the first reviews, the writer states,
       Anomalisa is a movie with wit to burn and enough incidental touches that the total achievement feels immense.