Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pollock's Toy Museum Exhibition

a confused jumble or medley of things.
"a glorious gallimaufry of childhood perceptions"
The 14 artists participating in A Pollock’s Gallimaufry have been offered unprecedented access to the Museum’s international array of toys, dolls, puppets, games, gadgets, and the paper theatres for which it is best known, as well as its archive of original engraved copper plates used in the production of those theatres. The resulting pieces, installed as stand-alone displays and interventions across the Museum, span a variety of approaches, processes and media.

A Pollock’s Gallimaufry will be a month long event showing works by contemporary artists working in a variety of crafts and media inspired by the unique, mostly Victorian, collection at the two historic buildings on the corner of Scala Street and Whitfield Street.

Jack Fawdry, whose great grandmother founded the museum, is curating the exhibition and has gathered the artists together to produce the works.

“It’s quite exciting because the toy theatre has had a turbulent past and it almost disappeared completely,” says Fawdry who is an accomplished artist and printmaker.

“Mr Pollock was the last great publisher of toy theatres, then he went out of business. After the Second World War Britain started to modernise and change and its Victorian past was slightly left behind.

“So that’s when Marguerite, my great grandma, comes in and starts the museum in homage to toy theatres,” he says.
- From Museum is keeping the drama of toy theatre alive with a new exhibition

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Second Annual Winnipeg Crankie Festival

The 2nd Annual Winnipeg Crankie Festival, taking place at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church, NOVEMBER 8-10th, 2019 promises to expand on the inaugural edition as a new, interactive and participatory festival, where audience members can immerse themselves in music and art; on and off stage.

 We are honoured to dedicate this year's festival to Canadian Folk Music Pioneer, Mitch Podolak.

To find out more, visit the festival website here, or check out the poster, below...

Crankie Creative Commercial

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Pontine Theatre: Exciting Improvements!

Pontine Theatre announces its 42nd Performance Season at its newly renovated venue located in Portsmouth's West End at #1 Plains Avenue. Audiences will enjoy ample free onsite parking and comfortable seating in the intimately-scaled, fully-accessible studio theatre. This season offers three original productions by the company and two productions by invited guest artsts.

First up on the schedule is Pontine's adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Gothic Romance, The House of the Seven Gables, playing October 11- 27. Set in Salem, Massachusetts, the story follows several generations of the ill-fated Pyncheon family, bowed under a curse dating from the famous witch trials, and trapped in the once magnificent but now decrepit family mansion. This production is underwritten by Piscataqua Savings Bank.

November 8-10, guest artists, Great Small Works, perform their original production Three Graces & Other Works. This company is a collective of artists who draw on folk, avant-garde, and popular theater traditions to address contemporary issues. Based in New York City, they produce works on a variety of scales from outdoor pageants with giant puppets to miniature "toy theater" spectacles. The company has received a Puppeteers of America Jim Henson Award, a Village Voice OBIE Award, and an UNIMA Citation for excellence in puppetry.

Pontine celebrates the Holiday Season, November 29 - December 8, with its annual New England Christmas production. This year's rendition features a story by South Berwick, Maine's celebrated author, Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909). A Neighbor's Landmark: A Winter Tale with a Christmas Ending, is a tale set in a rustic coastal fishing village populated by taciturn Yankee characters who struggle to bring their community together in time for Christmas.

January 24-26, Pontine presents guest artist, Sarah Frechette, founder of Puppetkabob, in her original production, The Snowflake Man. The piece is inspired by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, the self-educated farmer and scientist who attracted world-wide attention when he bccame the first person to photograph a single snow crystal. The play features creative storytelling, intricately designed Czech-style marionettes, and a striking pop-up book of water color scenery. This UNIMA-USA award-winning show tells a little known story to magical effect. Ms. Frechette studied marionettes in Germany with legendary Master Puppeteer, Albrecht Roser.

The season culminates March 27 - April 12 with Pontine's premiere of a new production, Robert Frost's New Hampshire, based on the early poems of the long-time summer resident of Franconia NH. Known for his New England settings, his down-to-earth, stark depictions of the difficulties of rural farm life, and his use of colloquial speech, Frost is widely admired as a true American Master.

Performances are Fridays at 7pm, Saturdays at 3pm and Sundays at 2pm. The five-event Season Subscription Package is $108 and may be purchased online at Tickets for single shows are $27 and may also be purchased online. All productions are designed for adult audiences. Performances are offered at Pontine's resident venue located at #1 Plains Avenue in Portsmouth's West End. Pontine Theatre is supported by a grant from the NH State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Source:  Broadway World

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Coming in July: The Smallest Show on Earth!

Coming up next month in July: The Geisel Library's annual Paper Theatre Festival, aka

..."the Smallest Show on Earth"!
Every year, the UC San Diego Library hosts a Paper Theatre Festival, celebrating an art form with roots in Victorian Era Europe. Paper theatres, also known as toy theatres, were used to promote productions. They were printed on paperboard sheets and sold as kits at the concession stand of an opera house, playhouse, or vaudeville theater. The kits were then assembled at home and plays were performed for family members and guests, sometimes with live musical accompaniment. The theaters gradually declined in popularity during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but have enjoyed a resurgence in interest in recent years among many puppeteers, filmmakers, theater historians, and hobbyists. Presently, there are numerous international paper theater festivals throughout the Americas and Europe, as well as several museums.
Watch this short documentary celebrating paper theatre filmed by UCSD-TV for the Library’s Channel!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Dreamland Theater: Star Trek Marionettes

Careful attention to detail and mastery of puppetry give
Dreamland Theater appeal to a wide variety of audiences.
From:  Saline Journal article by Dell Deaton

This past December 16, 2018, Dreamland Theater in Ypsilanti Michigan hosted its second live performance of A Star Trek Mad Lib Puppet Show on stage in downtown Ypsilanti. From pre-show to behind-the-scenes debrief, it was thoroughly delightful. [1,2]

First off, this is very much a presentation fundamentally true to the golden age of marionettes with its ties to Saline Michigan through the legacy of the late Meredith Bixby. The scale, rigging, and attention to detail have all meticulously attended to. Behind and above the stage, five human beings manipulated hand-crafted figures from rather cramped quarters, hunched about, shoulder to shoulder. [3]

The area on which action took place couldn’t have provided a viewing space more than eight feet across, three feet high. And yet, as Bixby student Erik Grossman has regularly said in his own recollections, everything around it quickly disappears once the story starts and the audience is drawn into it. Appropriate to how the original Star Trek series was watched first-run in the 1960s, akin to a large family gathered in the living room to watch it on their home television. [4,5,6,7]
A “Mad Libs” approach was cleverly used as both warm-up and to invest audience members in the story to come. Post-show, it was revealed that significant differences in one performance versus another would come through the selection of one from among ten different music beds, for example. Backstage crew members weighed-in with real-time responses to suggestions that required some arbitration (eg, Was Warren G Harding appropriately considered a “historical figure” from the 1910s?). [8]
When the curtains then opened, it was pure, respectful Star Trek — with puppets. A solid third season episode, if influenced by Gene Coon. Rest assured, nothing like the animated installment. [9,10,11]

After the approximately forty-minute performance, troupe lead Naia Venturi invited all who were interested to come see their setup behind the curtain. Meticulously detailed string-puppet renditions of the five featured Enterprise crew members were suspended at the ready from ceiling hooks. Each was a work of art in its own right, without a visible hint of compromise. For this project, she’d elected to fabricate all characters in tandem.
Which was the most challenging? “Captain Kirk,” she replied without hesitation. “He just didn’t have any distinguishing features that I could call out for emphasis.” No one who heard this showed sign of agreement; the Venturi Captain Kirk marionette looked great.
Aside from the core work, there was evidence of modern technology that had been brought along side vintage puppet work. For example, a large screen hung above the curtain opening and visible only to the performers acted as teleprompter for script text. Ms Venturi additionally had a sound sampler from which she could deliver context appropriate sound effects and music beds in real time. [12,13,14]
  1. Dreamland Theater (home page).
  2. Star Trek (home page).
  3. Once Upon A Time, Marionettes Set The Stage For Entertainment Techniques That Remain Relevant To This Very Day” Dell Deaton (September 10, 2018) Saline Journal.
  4. A Brief Look Back On The Meredith Bixby Marionette Story, Part I: History Can’t Be Packed Away In A Single Box” Dell Deaton (September 20, 2018) Saline Journal.
  5. Star Trek” IMDb.
  6. Star Trek” Netflix.
  7. Tech Time Machine: Screens and Displays” Stephanie Walden, Mashable.
  8. Mad Libs (home page).
  9. Coon, Gene” Star Trek.
  10. Gene L Coon: The Man Who Made Star Trek Worth Saving” Carlos Miranda (November 8, 2017) TrekNews.
  11. Star Trek: The Animated Series” IMDb.
  12. Hey, what’s that sound: Sampler” David McNamee (September 28, 2009) The Guardian.
  13. Music Recording: What Is a Music Sampler?” (December 18, 2008) expertvillage.
  14. Calendar” Dreamland Theater.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Action Shot

From the film, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, this is a scene showing a mechanical prop operated off-stage that provides the illusion of a sea monster 'eating' a sailing ship.  What fun!

Although this was meant in the film to be full-size, the same type of mechanisms, scaled down, would do beautifully in the toy theatre.  Hmmmm...that gives me an idea.......