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.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Animated Life: Mary Leakey

Scientific history told via toy theatre-influenced two-dimensional puppets...

Friday, October 23, 2015

In Memoriam: Peter Baldwin

1933 - 2015

Our dear friend, colleague and partner in the business of 'Pollockry' has died after a short illness.

A classically trained actor, he loved popular culture as much as the serious stage and was best known by the public for his role as Derek Wilton in the British television series, Coronation Street. He was known by the world of toy theatre as an expert, practitioner and collector in the art form. After he was given a toy theatre by his parents for his twelfth birthday, he became fascinated with the miniature theatre which was a lifelong love. He interspersed his acting with work at Pollock's Toy Museum and in 1980 became the manager of Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop in Covent Garden, which he subsequently took over. He remained a partner and up until earlier this year he could be found working behind the counter in his shop.

He leaves his children, Julia and Matthew and his grandchildren, his brother Christopher (his former business partner) and a legacy to English Theatre (albeit the miniature one), and Theatreland/Covent Garden with the continuation of Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop.

- Staff of the Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop

Thursday, October 22, 2015


What exactly is a...crankie?

It's a panoramic scene, rolled up like an open scroll on two spindles, that are hand-cranked so that it scrolls across a backlit "viewing screen".

An example of a crankie, by the talented Katherine Fahey; I can hardly wait to see her recent work for an upcoming film, coming out in 2016.  According to Katherine, It will be a film about "...a traveling story teller, who uses a crankie to tell the story of the American revolution through 6 different people who lived through it.  Among them, a housewife, a native american man, and an African american man.  These stories are taken from actual oral histories of people who lived at the time."  Sounds amazing, and it will be a GIANT crankie, the biggest she's ever made!

A still from the upcoming 2016 film (as yet unnamed), featuring a giant crankie, made by Katherine Fahey...

To see more crankies, go to the Crankie Factory!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Ghastly Dreadfuls: Vaudeville Puppet Theatre

An amazing show called "The Ghastly Dreadfuls:  Raising Spirits" is being performed right now, through October 31st, at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia.
Reporters...recently had the pleasure of attending a performance of the award-winning The Ghastly Dreadfuls, and were astounded by the beautiful mixture of live music and dance combined with incredible elaborate puppet shorts. From the set design to the choreography, this production proved to be one of the most cleverly crafted and executed theater sets this reporter has seen in recent years. 
A well rounded production introduced the audience to the Dreadful Family of ghouls who rise from the grave during this time of year and take human form. Rising from the dead, it seems, involves a lot of wonderful showmanship and musicianship in Victorian inspired costuming. Each of the Dreadful is introduced in turn by the ring master of this frightful circus, Simply Dreadful. 
The show continues by interspersing vaudeville styles shows with a selection of puppet vignettes representing puppet stories from around the globe. Some of the vignettes include songs such as the opener, “La Petite Vampyr,” and others work through voice over or dramatization, such as the compelling “11:59″. Not one of the pieces or songs fell flat. In a very real way, this production combined the best of early 20th century live theater with the best of modern puppetry.           
- Ghastly Dreadfuls Sell Out at Center for Puppetry Arts  

Lady Dreadful (Reay Kaplan)

Dapperly Dreadful (Bryan Mercer)

Dizzily Dreadful (Scott E. DePoy)

Shockingly Dreadful (Spencer G. Stephens)

Daftly Dreadful (Kristin Haverty)

Catly Dreadful (Jason von Hinezmeyer)

Simply Dreadful (Jon Ludwig)

Above and below - Cast: Scott DePoyKristin HavertyReay Kaplan, Jon Ludwig, Spencer G. Stephens, Bryan Mercer, Jason von Hinezmeyer

All portraits by Clay Walker