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Penny Plain, Twopence Coloured

The adventures of a Toy Theatre novice...

Updated: 2017-12-14T02:23:12.127-08:00


Secret Life of Cats


On December 2nd, at the Sala CCB (Performing Arts Center) in Mexico City,  the company Huellas en Venus Teatro premiered a new toy theater show - "About the Secret Life of Cats". It will be performed there until March 2018, and after that they hope to travel it round the country.

Watch the creative process come alive, as the company brings this production to life!

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A behind-the-scenes trailer for the new toy theatre production (in Spanish):

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From an recent interview of the company:
The production, in paper theater format,  written by Gerardo Castillo and directed by Mauricio Martínez Martínez, tells a story that will uncover a legend about relationships between cats and humans. 
In this world full of magical and mysterious places, the audience will be able to meet characters like Lorenza, the little kitten of colossal proportions, Timotea, the colorful flying kitty and his loyal friend Rodolfo, the acrobat mouse, and, of course, the daring Sir Thomas Malory Tapioca.
The story arises from the need to explore the thousand-year-old figure of the cat, which has inspired from heroic legends to tales of terror. With a sense of humor, the project is immersed in its amazing stories and vicissitudes, the same that happens on the margin of the daily worries of the human beings. 
Miguel Ángel Morales, Mauricio Martínez Martínez and Ana Cordelia Aldama make up the cast of this work that proposes the fusion of paper theater with a contemporary expressiveness, in which the actors use the resource of oral narration, with masks and manipulation of objects.
That sounds amazing!  I hope anyone in Mexico who has the chance, definitely checks out this fantastic production...

Wilton's Music Hall & Toy Theatre


A mouse-themed 'Music Hall', (Storybox Collective exhibition/Wilton's Music Hall) - Note jumping baby mouse!Wilton's Music Hall has been hosting an exhibition that includes a very special toy theatre.  I will let the artist and creator of this toy theatre - Fann (Peeticha) Kongrit - tell you all about it...This project is called, Wilton's Mousy Hall.It began when I joined a group called The Storybox Collective. It is a group of ten designers and illustrators who have explored the potential of archival research in order to introduce their audience to a curious world of discovery and serendipity. Faan (Peeticha) Kongrit, the artistOur first group exhibition - ‘Storybox: Tales of Absence, “What ifs” and Salvation’ - was inspired by the archives of London’s celebrated Wilton’s Music Hall and we have interpreted the world of Wilton’s that was, that is and that could be through a series of new artwork.Archival collections present a vast wealth of opportunity for discovering creative inspiration and surprising revelations. The Wilton’s collection contains hints and clues to not just the history of the building and its environment, but to the many fascinating people who walked the hallways of the world’s oldest grand music hall. In this project, I took inspiration from The Music Hall building itself. When I saw the holes and faded paint, I realizes that there are memories recorded in the wall. So I wants to turn back in time and bring that former glory back by using the perspective of a little creature living in the wall.I imagined the families of mice living in the cracks and crevices. Watching the performances and passing the stories down through the generations. The result is a paper theatre, a miniature mousy version of Wilton's. Not just the architecture or the painting  [artwork used in the toy theatre] that was the inspiration, was  from the original building. I also researched the famous performers of Wilton's and change them into mice (see below...)In-progress:  The 'Music Hall' toy theatre sheets being created before assembly...In-progress:  The 'Music Hall' toy theatre sheets being created before assembly...Characters that inhabit the stage of the 'Music Hall' toy theatre...The proscenium, stage, main floor, and balcony seating of the 'Music Hall' toy theatre...Completed 'Music Hall' toy theatre:  Performers, Orchestra, and Audience...The 'Music Hall' toy theatre, on display, at the Wilton Music Hall's exhibition!The Storybox Collective:  Faan (Peeticha) Kongrit in the middle, wearing red beret...Speaking of which, the Les Enfants Terrible were at Wilton's Music Hall just last month. I wish I had known - they look amazing! I definitely would have shown them off and tooted the horns for them here, in advance!Les Enfants Terrible at Wilton's Music Hall in October 2017, also incorporate toy theatre in their performances... allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="375" src="" width="640">[...]

18th Century Mechanical Theatre


"An 18th-century mechanical theatre was a technology of tricks and devices..." - Read more.

On exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum through February 25, 2018...
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Driveway Follies


There is a very special place in Oakland, California, where a very special program is performed every October 30th and 31st.  It all started with an idea from the mind of Larry Schmidt...

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Below are some highlights from the show - excerpts that demonstrate the sharpness of wit,  skill of puppetry, and comic brilliance - that you'll be sure to enjoy.  First up, Mysterious Mose, followed by, The Skeleton and the Roundabout, and finally, Hanky Pank's T'ain't No Sin! Check them out...

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The Rebel Puppeteers of Sudan


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Maker Spotlight: Studio Schaapman & Mouse Mansion!


Studio Schaapman is a family business, consisting of Karina Schaapman and her children, Tom, Ian, Manita, and Lili. They are the creators of the children’s book series, Mouse Mansion (translated into 25 languages).In the books, they use detailed miniature settings they build themselves that can now be admired at their Amsterdam Muizenhuis (or Mousehouse) shop. At the back of the shop is their studio where they create their mouse worlds, and where visitors can look inside. People often ask questions about the inspiration, design, and construction of the mouse mansions.In the Mouse Mansion shop & studio you can:Marvel at the Mouse Mansion sets built for the books, including the harbor, funfair, circus, and theatreSee how they are built and ask the makers questionsListen to audio books and read all the Mouse Mansion booksBrowse around the shop for Mouse Mansion goodiesChildren can color while parents can take a seat to read to their child allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Studio Schaapman even provides video tutorials for those who want to build their own mouse houses![...]

Iconic Model Theatre Needs Good Home!


  Incredible infrastructure!  Wiring, controls, lighting, spotlights, fades - you name it, it has it...A few weeks ago I was contacted by email about a Model Theatre that is looking for a good home. The model is described as a Model Cinema/Theatre with revolving stage. Cine films can be shown through the back wall of the Model if required. There is only one theatre with a revolving stage that comes to mind, and that is the London Palladium. Although sadly, the revolve was removed some years ago when the Theatre was bought by the Really Useful Group owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I am not sure if this is a scale model of the Palladium itself. The gentleman who made it was a Mr. Sam Witham, from Reading. He was a member of the then, Reading Society of Model and Experimental Engineers. He won First Prize with his Model in 1951.Dimensions of the model are: Height 86cm. Width 50cm. Depth 75cm. Below are further photos, with contact information at bottom.One of the control boards as it was being constructedIf there are any Model Theatre enthusiasts who could give this iconic model a good home, then please contact Mr. Witham's grandson, Simon Gumm.His details are: 02380 436398 or mobile 07917 673934[...]

X-Men Wolverine as a Puppet



Australian star Hugh Jackman, well-known for his role as Wolverine, was recently in Taiwan to promote the film Logan. At a press conference there, he was given a Taiwanese glove puppet in the likeness of his X-Men character from the film company, 20th Century Fox. Jackman said he will treasure the amazing gift forever, and will have to find a way to keep it away from his children.

A Portrait of the Puppet Master as a Young Man


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Barnaby Dixon is a very talented young man, with an innate ability to create both visually (puppets) and orally (character voices), as well as write/ad lib some VERY funny stories for his puppets. Check his videos out to see for yourself...

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 toytheatre 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 productionof "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.[...]

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!

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.’Deep.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[...]

Toy Theatre Aficionado: Ulrich Chmel


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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!

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!)        WE THANK YOU!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 WilsonMusic by Jessica Lurie and Hannah TempleLights by Meredith Holch; sound by Akeyjoa AndoScript by Jenny RomaineNourish your queer political desire today. Enjoy this limitless non-normalized,  very open utopian vision of what's possible...Buy tickets hereMake a donation here[...]

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...

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


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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

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]

Tunnel Book: Zombifying a Classic


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

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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".

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]

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.

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...

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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.

Feature: Little Theatre of Dolls


I've discovered an exciting duo of performers, named Raisa Veikkola and Frida Alvinzi.  I love how they are willing to use old-style ideas and make them really pop!! Take a look at the still shots below, followed by two videos, to get a taste of what they have done so far...The Holy Dress is a creation story that draws on ancient cosmic origination myths. From a universal egg a thought was born that evolves into Eve and Adam. This story of creation happens inside of a dress and both puppeteers are stuck inside. They work as the dual forces: the night and day, dark and light,good and evil manipulate the elements of creation. In beautifully crafted sceneries the audience gets to experience magical realities and stories acted by exquisite hand made puppets that all have been created by The Little Theatre of Dolls.- Dolly of LondonThe Story Machine is a magical technicolor love story about a girl and a boy trapped inside a television with nothing but objects of desire. Using puppets and live action, The Little Theatre of Dolls has created a surreal world made out of recycled materials and charity shop treasures - and in this world anything is possible. The Story Machine is also a satire of our world of consumer-driven greed.The puppeteers shown as the mystical masters of the universe seem to know the secrets of the story they tell, using the machine as the tool of creation. The piece shows the confusion in being human and over the collective consciousness of memories. The machine wants to transform the characters into what they desire; to transform it's victims and to make them transcend between worlds and to constantly capture their imagination.- Dolly of London allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="351" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="625"> The Story Machine from Raisa Veikkola & Frida Alvinzi on Vimeo. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="351" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="625"> The Holy Dress from Rainstar Boutique on Vimeo.[...]

Toy Theatre in Theatre: A Christmas Carol


Set design for A Christmas Carol by Tom Pye for Phelim McDermott's production...[Courtesy: Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop]Much of the evening’s enchantment springs from Phelim McDermott’s inventive direction, which plays deliciously with theatrical conventions, setting the action within a Pollock’s toy theatre (beautifully designed by Tom Pye), and then shattering the fourth wall with direct address...  - Theatre Review, Sunday Daily Express [20 Dec 2015]A must-see on the London stage through January 30th, this production of the classic tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL incorporates strong elements of toy theatre.Up, Up, and Awaaaaaaay!The ghosts who show Scrooge what a miser he has become are brilliantPress Night curtain call showing part of the life-size 'toy theatre' prosceniumClose-up of 'toy theatre' curtain behind actors as they take a Press Night curtain call[...]

Anomalisa: Stop Motion Alive & Well


Anomalisa co-director Duke Johnson, setting up a shot...

Movie Poster [Click to enlarge]
An amazing stop-motion film is about to be released, entitled "Anomalisa".

It's nice to see the older technologies still not only being done, but being done brilliantly.

It's a painstaking process, taking much longer to set up and film shots than in live-action.  But if done right, it's something very special.

In one of the first reviews, the writer states,
       Anomalisa is a movie with wit to burn and enough incidental touches that the total achievement feels immense.
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