This stage looks like a proscenium theatre, But
 it has pop-up scenery by Agusta Agustusson
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Judith O'Hare

Toy Theater originated in the 19th Century.   People reenacted complete dramas in their living rooms. They used small replicas of the theaters of the day and acted out the plays that were popular at time. They used paper cut out figures pasted on cardboard which were moved with their hands or sticks from the sides of the stage or from above. People could purchase artists’ sketches of the characters and sets for a play; they were called "a penny plain, two pence colored". They would take these drawings home, cut them out and construct the sets, costumes and characters and then act out the full story for family and friends.

The people doing the plays could put their own personalities into the plays and decorate the characters with their own materials and images from their imaginations.

The possibilities for acting out plays, scenes and events in miniature are limitless. From these beginnings in the 19th century, contemporary puppeteers have taken the concept of acting out a play in miniature and made it their own. The size and style of the theater acting space can vary, but it is always "small"; the puppets or animated objects are as unique as the performer and the subject for the stories are varied. They can include retelling stories from the theater, literature or life. The stories can be historical, hysterical, satirical, cynical, humorous, fantastic, factual, fantastical or just plain fun.

For "how to" see my flyer "Petit Puppet Play"
and my workshop handout "Victorian Stage".

Judith O’Hare c/o
Reading, MA 01867
781-944-0965    e-mail

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