Sunday, June 13, 2010

GSW9: Festival Report VI

Temporary Toy Theatre Museum

From, Tess Elliott - Toy Theatre Festival reporter-at-large, who says, "Here is my report on the Workshop and the Symposium..."
Saturday, June 12

Today was a long day! I went to the workshop hoping to see kids making toy theaters and only counted four children and three teenagers. The rest of us were a lot older! I threw myself into building. Half way through I was horrified to hear that we were expected to take them up to the stage and either perform or explain them. I am NOT a performer but they liked my theater. I saw a plastic apple and decided to do the Garden of Eden and called my theater Paradise, with an angry apple hanging on a big bare branch as the main character (someone else grabbed up all the leaves in the props box).

After the workshop, and there were some beauties, I went to the symposium. The Spanish lady with the collection of toy theaters was there, Professor Bell, two other performers and a professor in theater & puppetry at Hunter whose names I could not write down fast enough and will look up. It was interesting to hear them talk about the small scale of toy theater, though it was stretched to include the Bread and Puppet Theater (big sets and puppets) which kind of bursts out of the envelope so to speak. I for one felt it was appropriate for them to be represented, as the Bread and Puppet Theater gave birth to many of the toy theater professional performers working now on the East Coast. That will be part of my [next] report...

It is fun to hear the puppeteers talking about using this medium, though [some] did not like the video close-ups usually projected above. It isn't very attractive, for sure, but for people far back it makes sense of what they are seeing in a very tiny scale from the back rows. It is practically impossible, in a Festival type setting, to do toy theater in the way it was invented to be seen, with very small audiences. The more traditional theaters, being very small, are hard to see (the Little Blue Moon Theatre handed out little cheap opera glasses and I was glad to have them). I only suffered from having to sit in the front row (to hear better), which made me miss some of the lower movements on the smaller stages. I liked hearing that there are some, including Great Small Works who do performances in the schools. Kids seem to be so restless with electronics giving them short attention spans. Toy theater, especially when kids are involved in the shows, can help get those attention spans stretched out for the important things in life, like inventing or making something, building relationships, blissing out to a sunset, letting great art move you, finishing a whole novel...and perhaps making great art themselves.
Amen, Tess...Let's hope so!

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