Friday, December 30, 2016

A New Toy Theatre is Born: HAMILTON

The toy theatre includes a great example of pre-restoration (2013) interior architectural accuracy...
[Photo Credit:  Kelli Kirk]

Last week, one very lucky little boy received a rare Christmas gift nowadays:  A toy theatre. Not only was it a toy theatre, but it was an original, newly-conceived theatre based on the Richard Rodgers theatre in New York City.  On top of that, it was based on that theatre's current production - HAMILTON.

Milo's mother, Kelli shares a bit more:
For the past month, Mark and I have worked late at night after bedtime to build Milo a Victorian style "Toy Theater" of the play Hamilton: An American Musical - it includes a wooden stage, and all the players on tiny marionette wires. It was a
Actual side marque that Milo's toy
theatre was faithfully based upon...
painstaking project with tremendous scope creep but it is faithful to the original Victorian style toy theater as we could muster, except in the LED lighting - executive prerogative.
Toy Theater was a cultural phenomenon in the 19th century, a style of puppeteering that included a small stage and tiny 'marionette' style characters. Parents would go to the theater and bring home a toy version of the theater so the child could act out a play. When we visited London, puppeteers recommended we visit Pollock's Toy Museum which has a large collection. Pollock's was one of those quintessentially London places - tiny, many floors tall, higgledy-piggledy collections of amazing old toy theaters and childhood ephemera. Milo was completely captivated by them -- but they aren't really made today [at least not in the same way they once were - Note from Trish.]
Milo has had a passion for puppetry ever since he can
remember.  His Christmas gift of a toy theatre version
of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, featuring a production
of "Hamilton", made at night in secret by his parents!

[Photo Credit:  Kelli Kirk]

Our gift was a success and Milo declared, "Mom, this is the best present I ever got!" and quickly set about to acting out the Cabinet Battle.

From an article called The Rise and Fall of Toy Theatre (in recent years, it is rising again):

...A toy theatre was, as we will see, a tiny but complex structure—as intricate and lovingly assembled, in its way, as model railroads can be for today’s hobbyists. In its prime, it was not a nostalgic hobby but a breathless bulletin from the newly emerging world of mass communications and global celebrities—a chance for ordinary people to touch their heroes in person...

I have it on good authority that Milo and his Mom are two of the very lucky people who have secured tickets to HAMILTON, and will be attending a performance in the new year, in the new future. When Milo comes back home, I have a feeling he will be even more excited about not only the theatre but putting on a performance.

Welcome to the toy theatre family, Milo!

Comparing the theatre's exterior front to the toy theatre's, you can see the amount of detail that Milo's parents,
Kelli & Mark, put into recreating the Rodger's theatre on a miniature scale - a very fine job for their first time.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rebel Red & The Wolf

Red encounters the Wolf


Sunday, January 8, 2017
[See Details by clicking on poster on the right]

Rebel Red lives with her mum Penny and her dad Will  in the a sleepy country village. Penny runs the community shop, Will is the forest ranger. Family life is disrupted when Granny Bake-Off’s herbal medicines get mixed up, and Grandpa Jack spots a huge wolf near their home...

This is a family show adapted by Joe Gladwin from the traditional LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD story

Help arrives in the nick of time!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mouse Shops by Anonymouse

"Am I too late?" Mr. Mouse wonders.  It looks like he is - the door is locked, the lights are out, and no one answers...

"Mrs. Mouse will be very disappointed," Mr. Mouse mutters to himself as he leaves...
The mouse shop in-the-making.  The creative process and attention to detail are amazing!
You may think you’re a nice, considerate person.

But ask yourself: have you ever considered the appalling lack of shopping centres for tiny mice?

No. We didn’t think so.

Thankfully, some artists have made it their mission to give mice the shopping opportunities they’ve been desperately waiting for.

Anonymouse is an anonymous collective of artists. We do not know much about them, other than the fact that they’ve now spent quite some time creating very small shops for mice around Sweden.

The shop is about to open after an early morning rain...

The shops are all perfectly mouse-sized, and are decorated with mouse-friendly meals, posters advertising upcoming mouse concerts, tiny chairs for customers to perch on, and all other forms of mouse-related delights.

‘For us the main point with the little scenes are to spread a bit of joy, so the question of our identities seems quite irrelevant,’ Anonymouse told when asked to reveal their true selves.

‘The scene is there for its own sake so shifting focus to us just seems unnecessary.’

The attention to detail is amazing; nods to other rodentia works is amusing. 
The tiny labels, the country-of-origin all adds to the "reality of the small"!

Anonymouse told us that the idea for shops for mice started over a year ago in Paris.

‘We are obviously fond of miniatures,’ they said.

‘We like to imagine a world where mice lives parallel to ours but just slightly out of sight. It was also a bit of a fun challenge to look at a “human” object and consider what a mouse would do with it.’

They started to create the shops in March, and now work on making new ones occasionally, as the need arises.

The two mouse shops are located on a busy street corner, tucked away into a window well.

A customer's bike, a menu on the wall, and a credit card list on the door - who knew mice used credit cards?!

When asked if there’s a deeper meaning to the work other than providing mice with shops, Anonymouse said: ‘Nope. Only if you want it to be.’


Banksy Mouse?
Anyway, the whole thing is lovely, and mice finally have a place to buy tiny croissants. Hooray.

If you’d like to keep up to date on all mouse-focused building works, follow Anonymouse on Instagram.

Source:  MetroUK

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Toy Theatre Aficionado: Ulrich Chmel

A wonderful video of a toy theatre production by Ulrich Chmel of Vienna, Austria...

Here we see Ulrich with a nifty idea - a wearable toy theatre!  He appears to be doing some audio effects with a tambourine/drum and singing.  I think he is doing a demonstration of toy theatre at a school, from the context on his blog I found this image at.  It is all in German, and not very friendly to translation programs.

We find toy theatre enthusiasts around the world.  It is fun to meet others who love the same thing we do, even if all we can do and smile and nod!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Great Small Works: NEW SHOW!

We are delighted to announce that La MaMa, in association with Great Small Works, presents our newest show,  
Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls

From October 28th through November 6th, 2016.

Please come, invite your friends, and support this exciting project!
Did we say we are delighted?
Yes, indeed!

And we are also struggling to find the funds to make these performances possible. Any donation will go a long way toward paying our artists -- keeping flavorful modernist Yiddish alive! Asking useful questions in tough times! Laughing at jokes our ancestors laughed at (still funny and in translation!) 

moscow hotel

Great Small Works revisits the work of radical 20th-century New York City puppeteers Zuni Maud and Yosl Cutler. In a bilingual Yiddish-English play that uses Maud and Cutler's satirical puppet scripts and original graphics, together with Great Small Works' own puppets and projections, and appearances by demented dybbuks and Mae West, Muntergang is a meditation on historical models for changing power relationships.

Created in collaboration with the archive of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research by Great Small Works members John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine and Roberto Rossi.

With puppeteers Joseph Therrien and Sam Wilson
Music by Jessica Lurie and Hannah Temple
Lights by Meredith Holch; sound by Akeyjoa Ando
Script by Jenny Romaine

Nourish your queer political desire today. Enjoy this limitless non-normalized,  very open utopian vision of what's possible...

Buy tickets here
Make a donation here

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Gnomist

Deep in the forest of Overland Park, KS, little gnomes made a home. But how did they get there? This is the story of paying it forward, one little house at a time. A Great Big collaboration with filmmaker Sharon Liese and CNN Films, present The Gnomist...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ma'agalim (Circles) / Jane Bordeaux (Artist)

Jane Bordeaux, a band based in Tel Aviv, has launched a Hebrew language music video for “Ma’agalim”, using a rotating penny arcade entertainment machine to explore the concept of cycles. A wooden doll, stuck in place and time, is overtaken by every-day life scenarios. Finally the clockwork behind the scenes comes to a breaking point, sending the doll and all the characters into a new dimension. 
- From the Inspiration Room
Life certainly does seem like a matter of just going in circles day after day, especially as you get older. This delightful animation also has a deeper more melancholy message. The lyrics are translated, below...

Translated from Hebrew

Nights turns into days
Days turn into years
And inside them I am going
Fast and in circles
Winds are blowing at me
Blowing down my neck
Everything seems too far
Oversizing me

It’s not me that’s progressing
It’s just the time that’s moving on
It’s just another passing train
It’s a further tightening rope

Sunrises sinking fast
Seasons passing more
And I am the same
while the time is cutting short

Sunday, June 19, 2016

West End Live: Pollock's Life-Size Alice!

As they do every year, Pollock's Toy Shop has set up a stage right along with the big guys they were originally modeled after (pun intended) at West End Live! all this weekend.

On their Instagram, they posted that, "We'll be down at Trafalgar Square all weekend with our giant life size #AliceinWonderland extravaganza - come and be photographed down the rabbit hole..."

The Mad Hatter strikes a pose during a break in the tea party...
[Source:  Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop Instagram]

"I'll be 'mother', shall I?" asks the Mad Hatter...
[Source:  Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop Instagram]

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tunnel Book: Zombifying a Classic

When watching a recent film entitled, Pride + Prejudice + Zombies, I was enchanted by its opening prologue...

In keeping with Regency-era authenticity, the prologue unfolds through a tunnel book, providing a theatrical stage for the fictional narrative to take place. Working with satirical newspaper cartoonist Martin Rowson, Ben and team transformed hand drawn illustrations into 3D animations, intricately rendered and paced to the prologue’s voice over narration...Pride + Prejudice + Zombies was all done in 3D, the team worked hard to recreate the visceral and dusty reality of a regency tunnel book, they added creases, paper texture, flickering candle light, jerky animation, lens distortion and depth. - The Mill
A wonderful article about the "world-building mashup".

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Life-Size Dolls/Puppets Wander About London

The incredibly realistic 4' 7” high living dolls were played by two models who spent over three hours
being transformed by a top team of stylists, costume designers, make-up artists, and dressers.
[Photo Credit:  Tim Anderson/Taylor Herring]

A publicity stunt for a decidedly unique theme park ride - part of the world’s first psychological theme park - utilized life-sized dolls that resembled string-less, multi-jointed marionette puppets.

They wandered around London in December, in anticipation of the opening of the new ride some time this spring.

[Photo Credit:  Tim Anderson/Taylor Herring]

Friday, January 29, 2016

Toy Theatre Magazine

To read, click to enlarge

Do you know the free, Web-magazine "EUROPEAN PAPER THEATRE"?

Published in Denmark, Sven-Erik Olsen shares:

Since January 2015 we have issued that magazine with the title "Modelteater-nyt", but now we have changed the name because we have more and more international readers. With our magazine you will have quick and easy access to all the news within the paper theatre all over the world.

Last year we totally produced 200 A4-pages in 12 monthly issues - and - best of it all - it's free to subscribe!

Send an e-mail to: and you will all ready to receive the first 20-page issue coming Sunday the 31st of January.

Here is a preview at the front page for the issue of this month.

Monday, January 25, 2016

National Geographic: Paper History

In the latest edition of the National Geographic magazine, they examine the history being uncovered in the latest 'big dig' under London.  The paper animation below, commissioned by the National Geographic Society, brilliantly summarizes it.  However, I urge you to read more here...

Friday, January 01, 2016

NOTICE: Blog Subscription - Changes

FYI to all readers of this blog who subscribe via the "Google Friend Connect" on the right-hand sidebar on my blog:

Starting the week of January 11, Google will remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, they will remove non-Google Account profiles.  I don't want to lose any of my subscribers, and I'm sure you don't want to lose your subscription to one of the newsiest blogs on all things toy theatre and related!
If you use a non-Google Account to follow my blog, you will need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow the blog. With a Google Account, you'll get blogs added to your Reading List, making it easier for you to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs you follow.