Sunday, December 02, 2018

Curious Contraptions: Now through January 20th

Going on right now is a fascinating, fun exhibition of automata at San Francisco's Exploratorium. 

The featured artists are from around the world, and have a wide variety of styles, of which only a few are shown in the above film clip.

To find out more, visit the exhibition's page...

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Shadow Smash Hit: Feathers of Fire

Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic is a visually breathtaking cinematic shadow play for all ages, created and directed by Hamid Rahmanian, a 2014 Guggenheim fellowship-winning filmmaker/visual artist. The play unfolds an action-packed magical tale of star-crossed lovers from the 10th-century Persian epic Shahnameh (‘The Book of Kings’)

Monday, April 30, 2018

6th International Toy Theatre Festival at Vischmarkt

I am happy to pass on that there will be another toy theatre festival in Harderwijk, Netherlands next month, May 9-11, 2018!

The organizers, Harry and Tieneke Oudekerk, have shared:
Eleven paper theater companies from the Netherlands, Germany, and England have been invited to perform at the festival this year.  Over the course of the festival, more than 40 performances will be shown in residential buildings around Historic Vischmarkt. 
It is a special feature of the festival that you not only get to see jewels of this small form of theater, but also have the unique opportunity to look behind the facades of beautiful historic homes and to talk to their residents. A wonderful concept, it allows visitors to feel the familiar atmosphere in which paper theater originally took place. The central meeting place for the players and season ticket holders will be the old synagogue again this year - a wonderful location to meet friends and talk shop.
The theatre companies/individuals and their plays that will be performing are:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Private Toy-Theatre Exhibition Opens in Preetz

About 50 toy theatres, hundreds of sceneries and tiny paper models - the lovely, private collection of Dirk and Barbara Reimers - has found an official home in the Heimatmuseum (Local History Museum)  in Preetz.

All of the toy theatres have been part of a show once upon a time. The oldest is an original from 1869.

You can combine your visit with a private toy theatre show of Dirk and Barbara Reimers in their theatre room, upon request.  To get an impression of the exhibition, click here.

The Attic at the Preetz Local History Museum,  is the new home of the Reimers' Collection
In the Heimatmuseum in Preetz:  Dirk and Barbara, the founders of the International Preetzer Papiertheatertreffen, recently celebrated the official opening with Mayor Jörg Demin along with several journalists. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

AutomataCon 2018

AutomataCon hasn't been around all that long. But it's picking up steam. There has been a growing renaissance around kinetic, mechanical art, aka automata, in recent years. All around the world. Enter Brett King, who decided it was time to showcase the creations of all these amazing artists from around the world. And not only showcase, but provide a forum where they can network and collaborate.

AutomataCon 2018 is coming up May 18-20, 2018.  You can find out the details here, including what artists will be attending.  It looks like it'll be an amazing convention!

Take a look at the video below, showing highlights from the last convention...

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Maker Spotlight: Maggie Rudy & Mouseland

Recently, I discovered a wonderful article about  Maker Maggie Rudy, who invited us into her studio where all the magic happens for Mouseland...

Artist & Author, Maggie Rudy

Maggie’s fascination with mice began in the third grade, when her family moved to Lancaster, England, where her father, a biologist, had a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in physiology. She awoke from her “baby stupor” to an English aesthetic that would remain hugely influential in her life: hedgerows, gypsy carts, and a field trip to the home of Beatrix Potter. From a shop in Lancaster, the Rudy household acquired some mice made of felt. She and sisters Susy and Annie dressed them and placed them in a variety of settings. The “rapture of the tiny” that she celebrated in childhood has never left her.
- Rapture of the Tiny

The short film below is fun to watch, where Maggie lets us in to her studio, and shows us a few of her secrets on how she makes the magic happen!

Currently, Maggie has a traveling diorama touring the US, as shown below. Be sure and check it out if you can, when it comes near you!

Friday, March 02, 2018

House of Automata

In a wood in the far North of Scotland, there is a magical workshop where Maria and Micheal Start work preserving and restoring antique automata. With over 25 years experience, they painstakingly bring these pieces back to life...

The House of Automata from Euan Myles on Vimeo.

(BBC) - Automata in The Modern Age from Matthew Knight on Vimeo.
Matthew Knight, the filmmaker, says: 
"Automata are mechanical moving figures; throughout history their lifelike movements have fascinated such creative minds as Da Vinci and Faberge. 
"One century ago however, production fell silent. Now though, in a fortuitous twist, the computer age is turning the gears of an automata revival. Michael and Maria Start who run the House of Automata in Scotland are two of the world's foremost restorers of antique automata. 
"Here, they discuss their love for automata, and why more people are drawn to the craft."

Japanese Theatre Traditions to be Featured at Lincoln Center

On March 8th, Zach Dorn will join Julie Taymor in conversation regarding his experiences in Japan studying Edo Era mechanical puppetry and fusuma karakuri.  They will also be joined by the other 2018 fellows, Hector Flores Komatsu and Jesca Prudencio. The event is free! You can reserve tickets for the event here. Reservations are recommended! 

Taymor World Theater Fellowship WRAP-UP 2018 from MINORapocalypse on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Enchanted Dolls

I love making dolls because it allows me to work with several mediums at once. Making dolls is a creative process that combines the disciplines of industrial design, sculpting, ceramics, painting, engineering, drawing, engraving, jewelry making and textiles. It generates a whole that is greater and richer than the sum of each comprising medium put together. 
- Marina Bychkova

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Mechanic of the Past

Brittany Nicole Cox is one of the only antiquarian horologists in the world. She's basically a mechanic—a mechanic from the 17th century. Cox fixes old machines with watch or clock mechanisms inside them for a living. Often, these machines are missing parts that frequently no longer exist, so Cox fashions them herself. To visit her workshop is to see what the future looked like centuries ago, and while Cox's trade is laborious, time-consuming and incredibly intricate, she is preserving a magical part of humanity's past.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Chelm Legend: Fool Moon

A theatrical adaptation based on the humorous stories of Chelem and Eastern European Jewish folklore. Leimech and Laizer set out on an adventure to find a new moon for the town of Chelem to replace the one that was stolen.

The plot unfolds via a pop-up book, combined with puppets and shadows and incorporating original klezmer...

Galia Levy Grad has created a world of magic and beauty using the simplest, most minimalist techniques: the entire drama materializes out of a pop-up picture book. The visibility of the theatrical mechanism to the audience only serves to enhance the magic and liveliness of the two-dimensional figures. Galia has created exhilarating theatrical moments by means of inventive, aesthetic and highly imaginative elements. 
 - Comments by Judges’ Panel, 22nd Haifa International Children's Theatre Festival, 2012

A brilliant adaptation of the Chelm stories for paper theater, created jointly by Naomi Yoeli and Galia Levy Grad. (The latter is also the narrator and manipulates the characters, engaging in lively dialogue with them.) It’s impossible not to fall in love with Levy Grad, who brings to life the townspeople made of beautifully decorated papercuts; they appear, in fact, from an old book of tales, like pop-up postcards. The show reminds us of the true magic of theater and is an extraordinary glimpse at some wonderful stories from Jewish culture.
- Merav Yudilovitch, Ynet

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A British Christmas Tradition: Pantomimes

Pages from printed programme for Robinson Crusoe pantomime performed at the Theatre  Royal, 
Drury Lane, December 1881, England.  (c) Victorian & Albert Museum, London

Pantomimes are a mainly British tradition, that has come to be performed almost exclusively in modern times around Christmas.

Being a type of theatre, pantomimes have of course, been adapted to the toy theatre.  The toy theatre versions originally came out during the Victorian age.  Victorian pantomime inspired today's versions, but were very much of their time.  The history of pantomimes goes back much further, however...

Monday, December 04, 2017

Secret Life of Cats

On December 2nd, at the Sala CCB (Performing Arts Center) in Mexico City,  the company Huellas en Venus Teatro premiered a new toy theater show - "About the Secret Life of Cats". It will be performed there until March 2018, and after that they hope to travel it round the country.

Watch the creative process come alive, as the company brings this production to life!

A behind-the-scenes trailer for the new toy theatre production (in Spanish):

From an recent interview of the company:
The production, in paper theater format,  written by Gerardo Castillo and directed by Mauricio Martínez Martínez, tells a story that will uncover a legend about relationships between cats and humans. 
In this world full of magical and mysterious places, the audience will be able to meet characters like Lorenza, the little kitten of colossal proportions, Timotea, the colorful flying kitty and his loyal friend Rodolfo, the acrobat mouse, and, of course, the daring Sir Thomas Malory Tapioca.
The story arises from the need to explore the thousand-year-old figure of the cat, which has inspired from heroic legends to tales of terror. With a sense of humor, the project is immersed in its amazing stories and vicissitudes, the same that happens on the margin of the daily worries of the human beings. 
Miguel Ángel Morales, Mauricio Martínez Martínez and Ana Cordelia Aldama make up the cast of this work that proposes the fusion of paper theater with a contemporary expressiveness, in which the actors use the resource of oral narration, with masks and manipulation of objects.
That sounds amazing!  I hope anyone in Mexico who has the chance, definitely checks out this fantastic production...

Friday, November 24, 2017

Wilton's Music Hall & Toy Theatre

A mouse-themed 'Music Hall', (Storybox Collective exhibition/Wilton's Music Hall) - Note jumping baby mouse!

Wilton's Music Hall has been hosting an exhibition that includes a very special toy theatre.  I will let the artist and creator of this toy theatre - Fann (Peeticha) Kongrit - tell you all about it...
This project is called, Wilton's Mousy Hall.
It began when I joined a group called The Storybox Collective. It is a group of ten designers and illustrators who have explored the potential of archival research in order to introduce their audience to a curious world of discovery and serendipity. 
Faan (Peeticha) Kongrit, the artist
Our first group exhibition - Storybox: Tales of Absence, “What ifs” and Salvation - was inspired by the archives of London’s celebrated Wilton’s Music Hall and we have interpreted the world of Wilton’s that was, that is and that could be through a series of new artwork.

Archival collections present a vast wealth of opportunity for discovering creative inspiration and surprising revelations. The Wilton’s collection contains hints and clues to not just the history of the building and its environment, but to the many fascinating people who walked the hallways of the world’s oldest grand music hall. 
In this project, I took inspiration from The Music Hall building itself. When I saw the holes and faded paint, I realizes that there are memories recorded in the wall. So I wants to turn back in time and bring that former glory back by using the perspective of a little creature living in the wall.