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

Saturday, August 29, 2015

World Puppetry Festival 2015

Still from production of "Blind" (DudaPaiva Company), premiering at the festival...

Every three years, a very special festival is held in Charleville-Mézières, France.  In 2015, it will be held there September 18-27th.

To find out more, check out their website...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Coming Soon: Three Countries, One Great Show!

GREAT SMALL WORKS  &  FACTO TEATRO  perform together
gsw  facto1  iglesia  duraznos
Three countries meet on one small stage: Great Small Works members Trudi Cohen and John Bell are teaming up with Facto Teatro from Mexico City and Barbara Steinitz from Berlin to share a program of Paper Theater for venues across New England and New York City.

Facto Teatro's Don Chico con alas (Don Chico with Wings) is based on a story by the Mexican writer Eraclio Zepeda. To go from one village to another Don Chico must come down the mountain, cross the jungle, then the river and up the opposite hill. He decides he needs to build himself a pair of wings and fly, to reach the sky before national holidays.

Great Small Works' Living Newspaper, Episode Two: Sidewalk Ballet contemplates the life of the city, featuring Jane Jacobs, Robert Moses, a burning bush, and the sidewalk.

Where noted, Living Newspaper will be replaced by Great Small Works' Lyzer the Miser. Based on a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, clever Todie teaches greedy Lyzer a lesson about generosity.

In Facto Teatro and Steinitz's collaboration Duraznos azules (Blue Peaches), Pedro asks his grandmother why the peaches in her garden are blue.

In Paper Theater, also known as Toy Theater, flat paper figures evoke grand worlds, as they did centuries ago in the living rooms of European homes. Through international Toy Theater Festivals in New York and Mexico City, performances around the world, and workshops for people of all ages and persuasions, Great Small Works and Facto Teatro have been responsible for a resurgence of interest in this accessible, inexpensive form. The grandest of tales with the simplest of means! And—you can do it yourself!


Sunday, August 30, 5:30 PM: Bread and Puppet Theater, Glover, VT. FREE.

Wednesday, Sept. 2, 7:30 PM: AS220, 95 Empire Street, Providence, RI. $15

Thursday, Sept. 3, 7:30 PM: Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, University of Connecticut, 1 Royce Circle, Storrs, CT. $12

Saturday, Sept. 5, 7:30 PM: Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo Street, Portland, ME. $12/advance, $15/door.

Sunday, Sept. 6, 7PM: Temple Stream Theater, Temple, ME. $10/general; $5/students and seniors; pay what you can

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 7PM: Pontine Theater, 959 Islington Street, Portsmouth, NH. $18.

Sunday, Sept. 13, 11AM and 3PM: Puppets in the Green Mountains Festival, Latchis Theater Ballroom, 50 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT. $10/general, $8/seniors and students. Bell and Cohen will present "Lyzer the Miser."

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 6:30 PM: Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT. FREE. "Lyzer the Miser" will be performed.

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 6:30 PM: Fair Haven School, 164 Grand Avenue, Fair Haven, CT.  Sliding scale $5-$15, pay what you can.


Thursday, Sept. 17, 8 PM: Jalopy, 313 Columbia Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY. $12/adults, $5/children. Facto Teatro and Steinitz only, with guest performance by Sam Wilson and Joseph Therrien.

Saturday, Sept. 19th, 3:00 PM: Teatro SEA, 107 Suffolk Street, New York, NY. $20/adults, FREE/children. Facto Teatro and Steinitz only -- en espanol!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

August 2015 National Puppetry Festival

At this year's National Puppetry Festival, there will be a toy theatre mini-festival.

Performers will be:

- Torry Bend (The Paper Hat Game)
- Clare Dolen & The Museum of Everyday Life (Elephant)
- EulenSpiegel Puppets (Finding Home)
- Great Small Works (Terror as Usual: Episode 13: Whistles & Leaks)
- Little Did Productions (Eli the Luthier)
- Microscope Toy Theater (Fisherman's Dream)

Video of Eli the Luthier (Little Did Productions)

Video of Fisherman's Dream (Microscope Toy Theatre)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

West End LIVE! Does Toy Theatre?!

Once again Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop is performing as part of the West End LIVE! event, performing today and tomorrow in Trafalgar Square.

Note that if you do attend, and post photos from the event on InstagramTwitter or Facebook with hashtag #pollockswestendlive, you will automatically have a chance to win a FREE toy theatre!

The cast having their costume fittings at the shop, and "getting into character"

We welcome you to Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop's West End LIVE! theatre...

Come see the beautiful stage, costumes, and very talented (and FUN!) performers...

Toy Theatre performers go Gangsta

Who are these two strangers, dressed in black?!

See you next year at West End LIVE!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Depict-O-Mat: Toy Theatre "Photo Booth"

Depict-O-Mat Kickstarter video from Depict-O-Mat on Vimeo.

A toy theatre-related fundraiser needs your help.  Yes, you!  I just got done donating $15 to them. They need about $400 more to reach their goal.  Let's help them get there!  [Read how, below...]

Created for event entertainment, Depict-O-Mat is modeled after a vintage photo booth and dispenses short, personalized stories.

Depict-O-Mat is a live machine that tells visual stories ABOUT you and STARRING you!

Combining nostalgia, improvisation and toy theater, Depict-O-Mat is a unique experience that will soon be available to rent for special events. It is modeled after the original photo booths. Imagine entering Depict-O-Mat, having a unique experience interacting with our Advanced Depict-O-Mat Technology, stepping out and getting to watch a tiny show inspired by you - starring YOU - that others get to enjoy!

You can help by providing a donation to our fundraising campaign.  Go here, and see what neat 'thank you' gifts you can receive with your gift...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Zach Dorn: Ordinary is Extraordinary

Tonight only, artist Zach Dorn deploys his Toy Theater show — 21st Century style — at Studio@620. In his An Excruciatingly Ordinary Toy Theater Show, Dorn - a recent grant recipient from the Jim Henson Foundation - moves digital cameras through toy-sized streets peopled with paper puppets, all to dramatize tales about a lonely puppeteer stalking the child of notorious celebrities, a ghost who bugs a little boy, and an opera-singing landlord who refuses to return a security deposit.

Dorn describes his tiny productions this way:  "Miniature Curiosa explores the underbelly of childhood nostalgia with the disappointed eyeballs of adulthood. Through low-fi technology, puppetry, toy theater, live-projection, and non-linear storytelling, Miniature Curiosa presents fast-moving, fast-talking, sometimes malfunctioning, live-action comic books. This is not the theater. This is the living room of an overzealous magician who doesn't know any tricks."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

David Lewis Worobec Documentary

David Worobec's Enchanted World from Narratively on Vimeo.

Recently the amazing David Lewis Worobec was the subject of a short documentary.  For those of us who follow David from afar, it was the closest we've had yet to the "next best thing" to actually being there...

Earlier this year, David and his mother Polly were featured in a story on Maine Public Broadcasting...

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Rare Play Performance - First Time Since 1854

An exciting event for all toy theatre lovers! This coming Friday, March 13th at the British Museum...

Come to the exhibition Bonaparte and the British in Room 90 to see Regency-era toy theatre productions of The Battle of Waterloo (1824) and Bonaparte’s Invasion of Russia (1825). The origins of the English toy theatre date back to 1811 when William West published the 'first cheap theatrical print'. West’s versions of these plays, based on Astley’s Amphitheatre, have been unavailable and unperformed since West’s death in 1854, until now.
For more details, check here...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Benjamin Pollock's Grave

"...The popularity of the toy theatre declined and by 1937, when Mr. Pollock died, the shop and the Pollock family were struggling to pay their way.The Chingford Historical Society believes this is why he was buried in a common grave with no memorial stone." - The Chingford Guardian
When I read that this week, I thought, "This is a great shame and should be rectified..."

To that end, the Facebook toy theatre group has started a crowd-funding project to raise the necessary funds to buy a modest stone to mark Benjamin Pollock's grave.  Long overdue, Pollock1 was one of the giants of toy theatre sheet creators and printers, and should rightly be recognized within a proper memorial.