Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Macbeth Character Figure



I came across this rather nice Macbeth figure on Wikipedia of all places.

One never knows where toy theatre may pop up!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"All the essential morals..."

Meanwhile the philosophy of toy theatres is worth any one's consideration. All the essential morals which modern men need to learn could be deduced from this toy. Artistically considered, it reminds us of the main principle of art, the principle which is in most danger of being forgotten in our time. I mean the fact that art consists of limitation; the fact that art is limitation. Art does not consist in expanding things. Art consists of cutting things down, as I cut down with a pair of scissors my very ugly figures of St. George and the Dragon. Plato, who liked definite ideas, would like my cardboard dragon; for though the creature has few other artistic merits he is at least dragonish. The modern philosopher, who likes infinity, is quite welcome to a sheet of the plain cardboard. The most artistic thing about the theatrical art is the fact that the spectator looks at the whole thing through a window. This is true even of theatres inferior to my own; even at the Court Theatre or His Majesty's you are looking through a window; an unusually large window. But the advantage of the small theatre exactly is that you are looking through a small window. Has not every one noticed how sweet and startling any landscape looks when seen through an arch? This strong, square shape, this shutting off of everything else is not only an assistance to beauty; it is the essential of beauty. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.

This especially is true of the toy theatre; that, by reducing the scale of events it can introduce much larger events. Because it is small it could easily represent the earthquake in Jamaica. Because it is small it could easily represent the Day of Judgment. Exactly in so far as it is limited, so far it could play easily with falling cities or with falling stars. Meanwhile the big theatres are obliged to be economical because they are big. When we have understood this fact we shall have understood something of the reason why the world has always been first inspired by small nationalities. The vast Greek philosophy could fit easier into the small city of Athens than into the immense Empire of Persia. In the narrow streets of Florence Dante felt that there was room for Purgatory and Heaven and Hell. He would have been stifled by the British Empire. Great empires are necessarily prosaic; for it is beyond human power to act a great poem upon so great a scale. You can only represent very big ideas in very small spaces. My toy theatre is as philosophical as the drama of Athens.

- G.K. Chesterton

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

George & Ann Neff

I recently heard from George & Ann Neff, two individuals very active in toy theatre and other associated endeavors...
We do the "other" puppets, too. The winter and spring were spent coming up with a new script and puppets for our faux Sicilian rod marionette presentation. And we have also been developing a circus hand puppet show for outdoor fairs and such. Our last circus booking was on July 22, and we needed a rest and to get caught up somewhat on house and yard tasks.

And now we have agreement to do Stephen Langdale's Nativity at our Episcopal church for a Service of Lessons and Carols the Sunday before Christmas. Jon Bankert constructed and used to perform that play. And we hope to go to Holland this coming May. So we are back in toy theatre exclusively at the moment.

Oh, and in February, we also did a 2 week residency over a month with a nearby Quaker school. The entire third grade class researched, designed, created and performed a hand puppet show on "The Underground Railroad". That was rewarding! We did offer a toy theatre workshop at their summer camp, but it did not get enrollees.
Sounds like they've been quite busy. It's folks like the Neffs that carry the torch and help expose new generations to the wonders of puppetry, particularly toy theatre...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fraggle Rock: Behind the scenes


Thanks to Puppet Buzz, here are amazing 'behind-the-scenes' vids about one of my all-time favorite shows, Fraggle Rock!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cabaret of Desire

If you are lucky enough to be in Chicago this week, there is an amazing show being presented there at the DCA Theater...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sale Featuring Toy Theatre


It is time once again for the semi-quarterly catalogue from Dramatis Personae. As always, there are many toy theatre related items up for sale...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pollocks Website is Back!

Paul Weighell recently informed me that the Pollocks history website I maintain appeared to be gone. Alarmed, I confirmed Paul's discovery.

I am happy to say it was only a technical glitch, and it is now back for those of you who have may have wondered. To others who have not checked it out, it is the companion site to this blog, with lots of interesting bits of history surrounding toy theatre, and Benjamin Pollock's role in it, in particular...including lots of great photos! Be sure and check it out...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Black Sheep Puppet Festival



Starting today, the Black Sheep Puppet Festival in Pittsburgh. Sounds like a wonderful variety of puppetry, including toy theatre pieces by Clare Dolan, Rose Clancy, and Debbie Bobeck!

Be sure and check it out...

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Pook Put Out


From soon-to-be-published The Adventure of the Queen’s Dolls’ House, by Kenneth N. Kurtz...

Let us return to the week previous and see a Pook most proud, for he had found not only the dolls’ house in Mary’s nursery, but three others as well. Two were rather shabby one-story affairs in more distant communities called Croydon and Sidcup, but the third, in ever-so-fashionable St. John’s Wood, was quite grand, marred only by the fact that its human owners were twins, and of the unfortunately rambunctious age of eight. Over the past years Pook had done exceedingly well by his tribe, finding many such miniature domiciles. Perhaps too well, for neither King Obera or Queen Tania demonstrated much enthusiasm when Pook informed them of his latest discoveries. None-the-less, these new housing opportunities would be publicly announced on the very next Monday.

And why Monday? Because of the performance of the Teasers and Tormentors at Pollock’s Toy Theatre Shop in Hoxton Street. Here was one occasion when all of London fairydom would be brought together, and therefore the perfect venue for any proclamations of a civic nature.

You might think that the Teasers and Tormenters had taken their names from the famous masks of comedy and tragedy. After all, one mask did seem to tease with its smile and the other certainly howled in torment. But in fact the fairy troupe had stolen its name from those given by humans to a theatre’s curtains. Teasers stretched across the top of a stage and tormenters hung down at the sides.

Pollock’s sold all kinds of toy stages made out of brightly printed papers. There were grand opera houses, famous West End play houses like the Drury Lane, and even tiny provincial theatres. Each of them was furnished with cardboard wings and back scenes for a particular play or musical extravaganza. Some were set up for plays by Shakespeare, some for operettas by Messers Gilbert and Sullivan or for operas done at Covent Garden, but most displayed scenery from Christmas pantomimes, especially Cinderella and Aladdin. And of course one was outfitted for a production of Peter Pan.

It was quite easy for giant humans to slide in new wings or take out paper back cloths for changes of scene in the tiny toy theatres, but fairies, being as I’ve said the epitome of laziness, would have none of that. So each Monday of “The Season”, the Teasers and Tormenters flew early to Pollock’s, often arriving at the very moment after the proprietor had locked up the shop. This was so that they might take a quick fly-by along the many display shelves and decide which theatres had the correct scenery for tonight’s performance. You see, when audience as well as actors can fly, well then why change scenery at all if you can just as easily change theatres?

Laziness also played a part in performance. No fairy actor would ever think of reading, let alone the hard work of learning lines. Improvisation was everything. But then, if you had spent nearly every evening watching a performance at The Old Vic or the Royal Opera House, well then it was quite easy to copy what you’d heard and call it improvisation.

(In fact, next time that you go to the opera, look very closely at the many candelabra that line the balcony fronts. Then count the actual electric candles on a particular bracket. You may see that there are one or two more sparkles than candles. If so, then quite possibly a fairy perches there, and is enjoying a view from one of the best seats in the house. At the Old Vic fairies usually hide among the chandeliers.)

Besides watching the show, they are waiting for the “big moment” when all of the human performers are onstage. These are excellent times to work one’s way back to empty dressing rooms and thereby enjoy feasts of flower nectar garnered from big bouquets labeled “Break a Leg”, or boxes of sweets left out on make-up tables. It is for this reason that fairies are unlikely to know the music from the triumphal march of Aida or speeches from the ball room scene from Mr. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. They have all been off on their own special interval swigging nectar or gobbling sweets.

The leader of the Teasers and Tormentors had, because he thought it quite posh, taken the name Horatio. On this particular Monday night the leader and his chief henchmen hovered outside the shop and clustered about a street lantern. They watched Mr. Pollock lock the door for the evening and wearily walk off down Hoxton Street, then they used moonbeams to slide through the display window. Horatio had decided that tonight’s performance would be about the life of a very great fairy king. Aha! That model of the Old Vic, the one with the forest scene, would be perfect for the opening scene. Horatio and his associates flew along the shelves and chose a castle throne room, a shepherd’s rustic hut, a mystic cave, and a festive banquet hall as their other scenes. By then all the rest of the troop had arrived. They huddled to decide the details of the plot. Do you see what I mean by “improvised”?

A half an hour later, small shimmerings materialized all over London. They coalesced into rivers of glimmerings converging on Hoxton Street. Horatio and his chief associates, Toby and Belch, waited at the shop window to greet their audience. An hour later, once all had arrived, Horatio, Belch and Toby, along with several others tugged with all of their might to close the huge window curtains. Well, it wouldn’t do for late night human passers by to notice strange lighting effects in Pollocks. Then they led the audience to the first theatre.

Hundreds of fairies soon hovered in what seemed to be a half bowl, or rather a neat vertical pile of horseshoes, facing the paper proscenium. In the very center of the lowest horseshoe, directly opposite the stage, were Queen Tania and King Obera. Fairy princes and princesses hovered on either side. The next ring above was made up of important court officials such as Frigo and Motha. And at the very top, five rows up, in that ring known in the human theatre as “The Gods”, flew the poorest and least significant of fairies. Well, of course, for this was the way that the Royal Opera House was set up.

The five flying horseshoes rang and shimmered with excitement. Next, Horatio, using a large hat pin, flew down to the center of the stage and thudded his ‘staff’ for attention. Ringing stopped and shimmering subsided, very like the dimming of the house lights in human theatres. All watched the stage.

Horatio swaggered upstage with his hair pin. Then Belch popped up through a trap door in the cardboard floor. He held a tiny paper shovel and mimed digging a grave. Horatio crossed down to the edge of the hole. Belch held up an acorn on which had been painted a ghostly white face.

“Oh woe, a skull. Whose is’t?” declaimed Horatio.

Belch answered: “Alas, poor Yore, I knew him, Horatio.”

Thus began a presentation of the remarkable life and great adventures of the most famous of fairy kings. This included his unfortunate demise when, after a great human banquet had ended, and all the guests had dispersed to the ballroom, Yore flew down from the chandelier to partake of a succulent bit of uneaten trifle, gorged himself to a fatness almost too much to allow flying, and was surprised when the servants came in to clear away. Yore hurriedly flew up into the flickering camouflage of one of the candelabra. Here alas, while flying too close to the flame, he was unfortunately snuffed out by an immense serving maid.

The hovering horseshoes wept and shimmered deepest blue at the play’s tragic end. Then as all of the Teasers and Tormentors flew onstage for a company bow, the audience erupted in glorious shimmers of bright pinks and golds and greens, and a veritable clarion of ringing applause.

At the end of this colourful and noisy ovation, King Obera flew to the stage and beckoned up to the second highest horseshoe for Pook to fly down and join him.

“You all know our chief scout, Pook,” said the King, “Well once again he has found some dolls’ houses, four of them in fact, and if any of you are looking for new digs, then he’s the one to see.”

Pook stood proudly with his St. Athelstan breast plate shining and sank into his deepest and most theatrical bow, but there was only a smattering of applause. Indeed, no one bothered to see him after the performance, or during the next few days. That is why he was now “a Pook put out.” Very put out. Obviously his hard work had led to a real-estate market that had become a tad over-saturated.

“Well,” thought Pook, five nights later, as he flew away from the king’s house in Belgravia, “If no one appreciates my work, then I will take some time off. In fact I shall hide away and nap for several days. Maybe several weeks, or even months. Make them worry and wonder for a bit. I’ll show them.” And he knew where too. The house no one seemed to want on Mansfield Street would be perfect. He could sulk in peace.

Pook shimmered through the glass of Mary’s nursery window. But froze just inside, for the distinct odor of grumpy old lady hovered around the wing chair. Fairies possess superb noses. But all was safe, for the chair was empty. And Mary slept quite soundly in her bed on the far side of the room. Pook alighted from his moonbeam at the open front door of the dolls’ house and went through and up the stairs to the larger of its two bedrooms. He had taken off his sash and breastplate and hung them on a chair, and was just about to jump in and snuggle under the coverlet, when a lovely new odor tickled his nose. Chocolate!

He sniffed more deeply. It was faint, but obviously a very good chocolate. Pook certainly knew how to choose his houses. He hurried below to the dolls’ house door and took a deeper whiff. Hmmm…Cherries and creams too. Shimmering, but certainly not ringing, Pook flew out of the nursery, along the corridor and down the staircase.

(There’s more to this chapter, for Pook discovers that the greatest Doll’s House of all time is being assembled in Mary Lutyen’s drawing room, but that has naught to do with Pollocks.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Toy Theatre in Literature: Fyodor Dostoyevsky


I like to observe children. It is fascinating to watch the individuality in them struggling for self-assertion. I could see that the other children's things had tremendous charm for the red-haired boy, especially a toy theatre, in which he was so anxious to take a part that he resolved to fawn upon the other children. He smiled and began to play with them. His one and only apple he handed over to a puffy urchin whose pockets were already crammed with sweets, and he even carried another youngster pickaback--all simply that he might be allowed to stay with the theatre.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Toy Theatre Collection Published

From toy theatre collector Nigel Peever comes this news about his exciting new book...
My book has just arrived in the post, all the way from America. I'm really pleased with it, nearly 420 toy theatre sheets all in one neat book.

You can find it here.

It's a massive bespoke book, produced individually for each purchaser so it's not cheap but I hope you'll agree that by putting so many sheets in one book it certainly works out a lot cheaper than making a book up for each play for example. And probably cheaper than printing the sheets off on your own home printer.

It's good quality paper too, Hi res scans, a very professional book just like any you'd find in a bookstore.

You can preview the first few pages by clicking the book preview bit on the url I've given you...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Many Face of Punch & Judy



www.flickr.com





Nineteenth-Century Stage Actors

Miniature portraits by J.L. Marks - Hand-coloured, os Mr Honner as Lord Rosslyn, Mr Gallot as Rugantino the Bravo of Venice, Mr O. Smith as Orsino, and Mrs Selby as Boadicea.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Tom Haney

Tom Haney has a new website. Tom is the creative genius behind some amazing new automatons. He's one of the new generation, building on the past, and putting their own stamp on the

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Luman Coad

I didn't even know this was coming to where I live, but last night I had a surprising privilege to watch a performance by a great puppeteer named Luman Coad. It was the first time I saw in person a full-blown Commedia del l'Arte pantomime show.

It was called "The Harlequin's Cloak", and it included the classic stock characters of Harlequin, Columbine, Pantalone, El Capitano, and Pierrot. It was indeed very special, and he included a 'how he did it' afterwards, on some of his secrets 'behind the curtain', to the whole audience. After everyone else left, I asked if I might speak with him, and he kindly took time to visit for a bit; I learned that he has worked in television and film, and has worked all around the world, for over 40 years. It was a joy to see him work!

Here are some photos from the performance and the interview afterwards...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Toy Theatre Invitational Results

Awhile back, I posted about a toy theatre invitational; click on the above image to see the results, which are simply amazing!! Obviously these are not toy theatres per se, but they are heavily influenced by classic toy theatre, and the artists have found amazingly creative ways to tell the story of Marie Antionette, the theme of the challenge...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Shadow Puppets Book


Kathe, over at Under the Poppy, writes all about her unusual book she's putting together, that prominantly features shadow puppets. Pretty cool!

Take a look at the book's trailer...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Call for "Arcane Media" Performers

Joanna Ebenstein of Brooklyn is putting out the call for 'arcane media' performers; Joanna is open to other types than magic lanterns, so this could be a great opportunity for toy theatre performers...
I am preparing a similar program to be held in Brooklyn, New York this autumn (September or October 2008). It will be a part 2 of a previous event you can read more about here. If anyone is based in the United States (or willing to travel here) and would be interested in participating, either presenting arcane media of any sort or speaking about arcane media, please let me know.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

With a Twist


Basil Twist is a third-generation puppeteer. Watch and listen as he creates magic with his puppets, including a paper theatre. Read what he says about creating and performance, and what it says about us...

Visit his website here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GSM Toy Theatre Festival

The Great Small Works' Eighth International Toy Theatre Festival is coming up fast! It looks like a great lineup of performers and workshops. Time for a trip to the Big Apple...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Steampunk Meets Toy Theatre


It was bound to happen sooner or later, and now it has...

One of Steampunk's greatest designers has taken a cue from toy theatre and used the design of a Victorian theatre proscenium to house a modern flat panel in.

See how it all came together here...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Reverse Emulation


The article above is from a page of the December 7, 1913 issue of the New York Times. It is about a "Toy Theatre", a small theatre of human proportions - a case of reverse emulation!

You might want to check out the rest of the page - it has a fascinating article about Ethel Drew Barrymore...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Georgian Model Theatre Experience



Monday 12 May at 1.10pm and 7.30pm
The Guildhall, Bury St Edmunds
New Model Theatre


OH! SMITH – THE KING OF TERROR
written, created and performed by Robert Poulter
voice of O. Smith: Peter Baldwin

This tongue-in-cheek production features the life and stage performances of the 19th century actor Richard John Smith, widely known as O. Smith, who was famous for playing demons, bandits, assassins, monsters and pirates. Robert Poulter’s New Model Theatre uses new artwork and modern lighting and sound effects to make a 200-year old art form accessible for audiences of today.

The voice of O. Smith is taken by actor Peter Baldwin, well known for his many years in Coronation Street, and also a reputable collector, writer and performer of traditional toy theatre.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NEW Toy Theatre Site


Lucia Contreras Flores has just announced her new website - Coleccion Teatros de Papel, or Paper Theatre Collection. Currently it is only available in Spanish, but I noticed that an English version is under construction. In any event, it's an amazing website, with an impressive collection on display. I encourage you to check it out!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Flea Circus

This ad video starring a flea circus features props including a miniature or toy theatre...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Theatre Design Invitational


Back in January, an invitational was sent out to design toy theatres. One of the many ongoing participants has shared.

Although these designers normally do more collage than theatre design, many of them are coming along quite nicely...Bravo!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Footlights Update


Last summer, Paul Weighell from Pollock's Toy Museum began machining his own toy theatre footlight shades. He eventually kindly offered to do the same for my theatre.

Here they are, in place. (I used a dollhouse lighting system for my wiring kit - no dimmer, very simple, but quite challenging enough for my first attempt; the bulbs were provided by Ann Neff when she built my theatre, which are 'grain of wheat' types...)

NOTE: I have traditional paper curtains on sheet metal backing to use, but also opted to have Ann include a roll-up curtain rod for which I made the red velvet curtain with beading you see here...

Monday, March 31, 2008

LA Toy Theatre Festival

For those of you lucky enough to be in the Los Angeles area, there is a toy theatre festival coming up in June of this year...

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Dramatis Personae Catalogue!

Dramatis Personae Booksellers have issued their newest catalogue.

Always a great treat, these "leading international dealers in antiquarian books, ephemera, and autographs specializing in 18th- and 19th-century performing arts and popular amusements" have a great variety that will appeal to toy theatre enthusiasts.

You can mail order through them directly, or you can see them at one of these fairs coming up this spring and summer in the US and UK both...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lighting Adventures

From Ann & George Neff:

We searched all over last April to get short strings of miniature lights. Not easy. I think we ended up with 50's in red, yellow and blue. We wanted to have lights of different colors that we could dim up and down in various combinations. (George would really have loved to have his own complete theatre so he could play with lighting.)

For our big size puppets, we have lots of lights and a big programmable dimmer box. But we needed something simple and transportable. So we asked our electrician to make us up a box. You can see it in the picture with Harry's small computer speaker on top. (Back home, we discovered the charge for making that simple box was over $400! I gotta get some confidence in doing simple electrical wiring.)

But we discovered that the purchased blue lights gave off too little light. So using a larger string, we set about coloring a string of white lights blue to get a "gloomy look" inside the crypt. We located some coloring designed just for that - coloring stage light bulbs. And there sat George, dipping and hanging the bulbs up on a wooden clothes rack to dry.

Voila! We looped the blue lights over the top on a wire mesh screen. And everything was fine. We did the show several times for friends. THEN, as we were packing up on a Sunday night, for the trip the following day, the blue lights just stopped working!!!!!! No fuse blown, other lights fine, circuit was okay. PANIC. I said to George, just pack it up we'll call the company in the morning and see what they say. And then I read that little white paper that comes with most Christmas lights, and it said, "Do not mount on or near metal". Aha! Our metal grid most have shorted out the string! George plugged the blue lights directly in the wall, and they WORKED.

So now the problem was to find a non-metallic grid in only a couple of hours. One of our building contractors was driving us to the airport, so we called him, and he dropped off some rubber boat deck grid, which is what you see in the photo. Things were a bit tense until we set up in Holland, because we really had no idea if this would work, but thanks perhaps to the puppet gods, magic happened and we had "gloomy blue" lights from the top. (We used the plastic grids that the Christmas lights come in, cut up, to hold the series of red, yellow and white lights that go across the upper bars.)

Unfortunately, I did forget to turn up the footlights (white) on one scene, and one of the members of the audience (a toy theatre VIP) complained that the show was underlit. One has to be quite careful in toy theatre. Different folks hold on strongly to different standards. If you look at the Sennewald photos, you will see that Ted Hawkins, particularly, has oodles of regular lights in his set up.

How much light do you get out of your set-up? (Low but very atmospheric!)

I am anxious to see what your theatre looks like now! (I shall post new pics of it after I paint it - see next question...) Did you paint it black? (I'm about to...)

How exciting! Do the lights dim? (No) Or just go on and off? (Yes) Did you put lights anywhere else? (I intend to but was not sure which way I want to go...yet)

How is the glued-on proscenium holding up? (Very well indeed...) Which glue did you end up using? (I used PVC from Gamblin - it has worked amazingly well, no wrinkling, no cracking, no pealing - I highly recommend it...The Gamblin site has much to recommend about this PVC:
"Diluted with distilled water, PVA size is a contemporary size for fabric support. Conservation scientists recommend painters use neutral pH PVA size on linen and canvas instead of rabbit skin glue. PVA provides a good size layer that seals the fabric but does not re-absorb atmospheric moisture, swell and shrink like rabbit skin glue does. There are hundreds of different formulae of PVA. We acknowledge and appreciate the research of the Canadian Conservation Institute that helps painters and conservators identify the best PVA to use. Gamblin PVA Size is made from PVA that has a neutral pH and does not yellow. It also retains its flexibility and does not emit harmful volatiles.")
Have you performed or even practiced yet? (No) Do your grooves work? (Yes) Ours, out of foam core, do. Did you get the old fashioned sliders for the flat side? (I have copper rod from a welding store that will work great for making these slides...) George wants to try that for our next show.

Do you take your theatre up and down often? (not often, but I have several times and it works smooth as silk...) Is it really a bother? (not at all...)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Teaser


I had to smile a big one when this arrived moments ago. Such an imaginative first response from the new site's owner has definitely got me hooked!

Her followup explains a teaser of what we will eventually see...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Toy Theatre Website



I've been watching this website for awhile now. It looks promising, and I'm currently attempting contact with the site's creator, Kate Irvine. I'll keep you posted...

Monday, February 25, 2008

New 'Tiny' Performances



During March, the Tiny Ninja Theatre Company present toy theatre productions including a new one for children of all ages based on Treasure Island!

Here's the scoop from TNT themselves...

Sundays, March 16, 23, and 30 at 1:30 p.m.

Tiny Ninja Theater presents Treasure Island
The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery, foot of First Street, between Houston & Bleecker in Manhattan
(F train to Second Ave, or 6 train to Bleecker)
All tickets $10, available for sale at the door.

Monday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Tiny Ninja Theater presents MACBETH
The D-Lounge
101 East 15th Street, just east of Union Square in Manhattan
(L, N, Q, R, W, 4, 5, 6 trains to 14th St-Union Square)
All tickets $20, available for sale at the door.

Since the dawn of time humanity has struggled with certain fundamental questions:
- What is the meaning of life?
- What is the sound of one hand clapping?
- If you're driving at the speed of light and you turn on the headlights, what happens?
And, most fundamentally of all:
- Who's the coolest: Ninjas or Pirates?
(We hope to answer at least one of these questions at the show!)

Tiny Ninja Theater, best known for its well-traveled productions of Shakespearian tragedies performed by inch-high plastic ninjas and assorted dime-store figures now gingerly wades into the muddy waters of novel adaptation to bring to the stage an original telling of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Treasure Island.

Best for ages 6 - 106. Older audiences may also enjoy.
Adults without children welcome too.

Then, on the very last day of March, our now-classic rendition of the Scottish Play will return to downtown Manhattan for one night only. (With hopes of future shows to come.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

GWS Does it Again...


I promised more information, and here it is...

The 8th International Toy Theatre Festival will be presented by Great Small Works May 23-June 1, 2008. It will be held at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York.

It's one of the largest and most comprehensive toy theatre festivals in the world. If you have the chance to go, be sure and let us know what you think. I'd love to hear back from attendees!
"[Great Small Works has] breathed new, pointed life into the form of toy theater." - Ross Wetzsteon of The Village Voice

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Little Theatre of Disease

Only a few more days until an exhibition closes (with a special event - see below).

What's so fascinating about this is where the exhibition and events are being held, and how toy theatre has been used within them.

I love seeing toy theatre used in innovative and exciting ways such as this!

From Daniel Baker comes this delightful reminder:

The Little Theatre of Disease and Desire

On Saturday the 23rd of February, between 2 and 5pm

At the Old Operating Theatre, Museum, and Herb Garret
9a St. Thomas's Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9RY

There will be a workshop for young people, screenings of The Simbysial Case-projected in the Operating Theatre, and new shorter works, that develop the 'paper theatre' construct in different directions.

About the exhibition:

The Little Theatre of Disease and Desire is a new project by artist Daniel Baker, Artist in Residence at The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret. The project centres on a paper model theatre, a contemporary version of the toy theatres that were popular during the 18th and early 19th Century in Europe.

Daniel Baker’s theatre has been built to display a series of scenes from a play entitled The Simbysial Case. The story of the play is the story of a disease. The central character is The Patient, a character called The Doctor often accompanies him, and together they try to uncover the nature of the strange illness that The Patient is suffering. The narrative is a journey of discovery: a voyage of mystery and danger that never leaves The Patient’s room. On this journey he meets a cast of unusual characters such as The Two Headed Leech, The Examinator, The Tiny Surgeon, and The Flock of Bloodied Aprons.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Red Moon


"Once Upon a Time tells a tale of friendship, villainy, dreams, and heroism that unfolds in an elaborately crafted toy theater..."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Paper Hat Mystery - SOLVED!

I was wondering the other day why toy theatre performers sometimes wear paper hats. I assumed it was a tradition of some sort, but I didn't know the details. I had a hard time of it finding the answer, but I was persistent, and finally tracked the information below down. Now, it makes perfect sense!!


In The Tenniel Illustrations to the "Alice" Books (Ohio State UP, 1985), p. 18, Michael Hancher mentions several of Tenniel's cartoons for Punch that featured paper hats for workmen (Ref:July-Dec. 1853, p. 169; 6 April 1861; 22 June 1861; 5 Sept. 1863; 4 Aug. 1866)

In the 19th century, square or box-like paper hats were worn in a number of trades: by carpenters and stone masons in particular, but there are references to their use in other trades, as well. Tenniel's Carpenter does in fact wear a carpenter's hat (which seems to have been folded in a different way from any printers' hat I'm familiar with: note the double diagonal creases, characteristic of the former but not the latter). - Terry Belanger, University of Virginia

"...paper hats were made and worn by carpenters, printers, and other artisans to keep sawdust etc. out of their hair..." - From The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Nov/Dec 2003, PAPER HATS

Even later, they were known..."Paper hats were once as common in a pressroom as ink..."