Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dramatis Personae Catalogue #106

Grand Combat in the Secret Mine No.2
(Hodgson & Co., 1822)

As always, it is a joy to announce that the latest catalogue has come out from Dramatis Personae!

You will find all sorts of fascinating ephemera for sale, including some delightful toy theatre-related items.

I highly encourage anyone interested in vintage toy theatre to check them out...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spotlight: Paper Cinema

They combine many elements, including toy theatre.  As Mike M. (my tipster) told me, "I love seeing the cut-outs freed from the stage..."

Troy in Troytown

From their website 'About' tab:

The Paper Cinema is an illustrated song, a shadow, a smoke, a mirror, a puppet show, a cinema show, side show, magic show, a show and tale, a show off. It exists in the meeting of live music and moving drawings.

What happens at the accidental meeting of inkblots, photocopies, cardboard, angle-poise lamps, the occasional table, video technology, a laptop and a banana box?

Best to see The Paper Cinema with your own eyes…

From a review:

"...Huddled in the dimly lit room we watched a screen in front of us while to one side the company themselves sat, arrayed around a tiny black box and a video camera. As they delicately moved dozens and dozens of paper cutouts back and forth in front of the camera on the screen in front of us a world was conjured; a world of pirates and plague, of mysterious figures and rowdy bars, of magical journeys and impossible twists of fate. To the gentle and perfectly pitched sound of a single live guitar these sinisterly beautiful illustrations danced across the screen. The whole experience was just completely lovely."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Toy Theatre Influence: 2D Animation II

Another animation film project that incorporates elements of toy theatre, is in production.

Molly is an incredible artist. I've been following her for years, and own some of her art. This is exciting to see her art come to life!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Toy Theatre as Therapy

The 2nd World Congress of Art Therapy will be held in Hungary this coming August. I recently learned that toy theatre is one of the forms that will be discussed in the context of therapeutic application. While using puppetry as therapy is not a new concept, I was fascinated to read how toy theatre in particular is being explored to use in just that way...

NOTE:  I initially took offense at the writer saying that "Nearly everyone who has dabbled in the Juvenile Drama agrees that the performances of the plays were usually a failure. It was the preparation that provided so many hours of delight."  But then I thought about it, especially after I read his later observations.  I think he has a strong point - while I don't think performances per se are 'failures', the process of creating is as important, if not moreso, than the finished product (at least for me...)  Whatever your opinion, I encourage you to give this unusual paper a read and see what the writer has to say...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Shop Celebrates Storytelling

Liminal Space opened this week...

A new shop has opened in the London area that celebrates storytelling in many ways, including the form of toy theatre!

They describe themselves as "...a pop-up shop celebrating storytelling through the making and animating of hand-crafted objects."

You can see more here...

"...the grim ending to Baba Yaga is performed, as we watch a wicked,
money-hungry  stepmother and her two obnoxious daughters being
turned to ash by the flames from a skull's eyes."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Optical Toys: Cyclotrope

A delightful re-purposing of bicycle parts!

The creator, Tim Wheatley, had this to say...
The cyclotrope is a cycle of 18 images that is spun at a certan speed so that the frame rate of the camera filming it gives the illusion of animation.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Toy Theatre & Beyond

The Fifth Annual Toy Theatre After Dark Festival starts today in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Programming is staggered with several options for the festival-goer...

Intimate, inventive, and wonderfully odd, toy theater has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, especially in the Twin Cities. From shows-in-a-suitcase, paper marionettes, and wearable theater to shadow plays, weird object animation, and table-top cantastorias (sung stories), a new wave of theater miniaturists is captivating audiences with fresh approaches to an old art form. The award-winning Open Eye Figure Theatre began showcasing the burgeoning local scene in 2007, and now partners with the Walker to expand into a two-week festival and present a program that includes short new pieces from local and national artists. Two distinctly different programs offer a stunning spectrum of miniature puppetry work. Featuring the far flung and home grown puppeteers Justin Spooner, Kurt Hunter, Z Puppets, Robin Schwartzman, Kristi Tiernes, David Commander, Amber Davis, Dolly Wagglers, Michael Montenegro, Michael Sommers, and Billy Mullaney. Curated by Susan Haas with Michael Sommers and Philip Bither.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

May Festival Recognizes Bicentennial

The poster's striking image is a brilliant focus on the foundation of toy theatre:  PAPER!

25 – 29 May 2011
Pays d’Epernay – Terres de Champagne

Bicentenary of Paper Theatre
Just 200 years ago, in the window of a small publisher’s book shop in London, appeared the sheets which made it possible to construct a real theatre at home for the first time; miniature but real…
All Europe published these theatres until they gradually disappeared at the beginning half of the twentieth century before reappearing in the 1980s by artists who brought them a future in other scales.
The Paper Theatre International Meetings which takes place in Pays d’Epernay – Terres de Champagne is devoted to this technique.

Paper Theatre from the Origins to the Present Day

Two hundred years of history, the first portraits until the most contemporary proposals
An exhibition in 200 m²
18 May – 25 June at the Multimedia library of Epernay
Coproduction: Papierthéâtre, Pays d’Epernay, Epernay Municipality, the Puppetry International Festival of Charleville-Mézières, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Champagne Ardenne Regional Council and Marne Departmental Council.
(The exhibition will be in Charleville-Mézières in September 2011)

16 companies
9 countries
20 towns

Svalegangens Dukketeater – Denmark
Paperplays – England
Puppet Working Group – England
Anima – France
Théâtre de l’Arc-en-Terre – France
Atelier de la Boule Bleue – France
En Verre et contre Tout – France
Volpinex – France
Barbara Steinitz & Björn Kollin – Germany
Burgtheater – Germany
Darvag – Iran
Papelito – Italy
Facto Teatro – Mexico
Teatro de Formas Animadas de Vila do Conde – Portugal
Scope Toy Theatre – The United States

Avize, Bouzy, Congy, Dormans, Epernay, Fleury la Rivière, Germaine, La Caure, Le Breuil, Mareuil le Port, Oeuilly, Orbais l’Abbaye, Pierry, Tauxières Mutry, Tours sur Marne, Troissy, Vandières, Vertus, Villeneuve-Renneville-Chevigny, Villevenard

MJC d’Ay
0033 (0)3 26 55 18 44


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Toy Theatre for iPad Official Launch

The joy on the children's faces as they see their toy theatre creation come alive put a big smile on my face!

I love seeing today's tech-savvy kids gets turned on to old tech interpreted by new tech. A great idea, and hats off to Pollock's Toy Shop for introducing it...

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Toy Theatre at the Library

Decameron no 2 by John Elmslie
Decameron no 2 a photo by John Elmslie on Flickr.

Mariella Bertelli is a storyteller and librarian with an extensive background in puppetry and theatre. She has recently worked on a retelling of the 16th century Italian classic Orlando Furioso and on her own stories inspired by material in the Toronto Archives.

Decameron no 5 by John Elmslie
Decameron no 5 a photo by John Elmslie on Flickr.

I contacted Mariella to ask about her involvement in toy theatre.  She shared that "...toy theatres are my passion after discovering them while working at the Osborne collection of Early Children's books...With my friend (and fellow librarian) Mary Anne Cree we have developed and performed (to private audiences) two shows -real adult content- adapting two stories from Boccacio's Decameron, and have had lots of fun doing them."

The source material sounds very challenging to adapt, but from the still shots I found of her doing one of the productions, shared here, it looks like it was an amazing occasion, complete with live music according to the notes!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Madness in Miniature

The House Theatre presents Madness in Miniature.

Performer, designer and puppeteer Meredith Miller stars in this elegantly macabre evening, which recreates the early 20th-century practice of parlor entertainment featuring toy theater and adult puppetry. Accompanied by live jazz and ragtime on grand piano, Miller evokes an Edward Gorey-esque vibe that tells a story of love and loss.

Meredith Miller’s hour-long escape into the depths of the Chopin Theatre’s opulent lounge recaptures the intimate feeling of the time when people performed toy-theater and puppetry for each other as live entertainment in their parlors. The mood is evocative of the artwork of Edward Gorey—elegant, macabre, understated, and hovering somewhere between Victorian and Art Deco. And by pairing a line-up of intimate, lush puppetry performances with virtuosic jazz and ragtime played live on a grand piano, we have the feeling of having slipped back in time and found ourselves in a mysterious, timeless, parlor populated by dark humor macabre notions of love and loss.

Meredith Miller is a Chicago-based designer and performer of original object-based theatrical works. Her recent work includes The Abduction, originally created for "The World is Flat! A Weekend of Toy Theater" at Chicago's Links Hall, where she shared the bill with Great Small Works. Following this performance, Meredith was invited to appear in Open Eye Theater's annual Toy Theater After Dark festival in Minneapolis, and Great Small Works' 9th Annual Toy Theater Festival in New York.

Sources: and