Monday, January 30, 2006


Gigi Sandberg has been sharing for some time about an ongoing project of hers to preserve her toy theatre collection for posterity.

After Hurricane Katrina, it reminded her how easily the material world can be gone at a moment's notice. Thus, Gigi has been working even more quickly to ensure the theatres a good and permanent (and safe) home. She has found it with the Puppetry Arts Institute.

Gigi says...
" we sent most of my collection to the Puppetry Arts Institute in Independence, Missouri where it will be on permanent exhibit after Feb.12 when we go there to help set it up (And celebrate my 80th birthday on the 13th!!!) I will miss my theatres.....but will rest easier knowing that they won't get wet in our next hurricane."

Toy Theatre on DVD

Recently on the toy theatre email group, it has been a matter of spirited and exciting discussion on how to get a good video record of toy theatre performances. Many ideas have been discussed and there's been much brainstorming. Now, the question is, can the momentum be built on towards an actual finished product?

Today I received an email from Gigi Sandberg touching on this subject...
I just received a letter from the Board of Trustees of Puppeteers of America thanking me for contributing 4 DVDs of Toy Theatre Performances to the Audio-visual Library...which had NOTHING on the subject to date and interest in it is growing so fast.

Here is what is on them: George Speight in probably his final performance of The Miller and His Men...Peter Baldwin doing Black Eye'd Susan at the International Toy Theatre Fest in Preez Germany in 2004...and Dirk Reimers at the same fest performs The Fairies's Island. On the second DVD, Barry Clarke does Blackbeard the Pirate...Joe Gladwin does Beauty and the Beast, Robert Poulter does 8 1/2 - History of Opera in 8 1/2 minutes - and Konjecture - a study of progress / Development / conflict...and Merry Margate. On the 3rd DVD Ted Hawkins in Blackpool England includes performance by Peter Baldwin, Pauline Venables, Peter and Sylvia Peasgood....and then a wonderful section of Ted's award-winning model theatre of the Boston Opera House...including a performance of Children in the Wood AND Brian Rogers does his incredible version of Around the World in Eighty Days...followed by a review of some of the tricks and how they are done.
Now, the catch to seeing these is that you have to be a PoA member; I think I shall have to seriously consider becoming a member now...!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

The New Automata Makers

Peter Meder is an amazing man. His website is one of my favorite stops on the Information Highway.

He's a descendent (figuratively speaking) of a long line of persons who for the rest of us might as well be magicians, because of the magic they seem to produce through the use of mechanics and technology. In Peter's instance, the emphasis is definitely on the latter - not that the former is not still a vital piece of the puzzle.

Peter is using modern technology to take the creation of automata one step further. The fellow in the picture is the product of this new process...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Toy Theatre 'Movie'

Harry Oudekerk as a puppet, by Lynn Zetzman

Harry Oudekerk has kindly shared a movie he made awhile back, which is a performance of Sleeping Beauty. Harry says that toy theater doesn't translate very well to the medium of film which likes closeups, not to mention capturing the lighting.

Another toy theatre enthusiast I had not heard from before, Eric Laws from New Orleans, shared with me today that he is in the process of "...working on film versions of toy theater performances that will eventually be available on DVD when complete." How exciting! Eric says he'll be posting a link to them on his website, the Seven Devils Parlor (which is an online storefront for a real world store he runs in New Orleans...) I can't wait to see the DVD, Eric.

Slipping Gently into the Night...

The survival of English toy theatre into the present age owes much to the enthusiasm and passion of George Speaight, who has died aged 91.

George Speaight left us on December 22, 2005. I encourage all enthusiasts to read this well-written obituary, a tribute to George by two other toy theatre enthusiasts...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Early Visual Media

An amazing website called Early Visual Media has come to my attention.

While it does not cover toy theatre per se, it does cover associated arts, and will likely be of interest to many toy theatre enthusiasts. I recommend it highly...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Homage to the Small Theatre

"J.B. Priestly wrote a play for the Toy Theatre and George Bernard Shaw wrote one for marionettes, while theatrical genius Gordon Craig wrote copiously in praise of the puppet..."

I discovered a website about a very special puppet theatre in the UK tonight. The shots of one performer manipulating a large marionette that in turn manipulates a smaller marionette is quite amazing to me!