Welcome to miniature theatreor toytheatre ! In this page, you are going to understand all the possibilities of the artistic medium for you and your family and hopefully get started on the joys of toytheatre.
Sceneries in toytheatre :
Toytheatre was born in around 1750, so imagine that thousand of toytheatre designers have been busy since this time, in building various atmospheric and gorgeous sets for the miniature stage.
In France, imageries d'Epinal and imageries Pellerin; in England, Webb's and Green and Lloyds and countless others are at work. In Denmark , Jacobsen, in Germany, Shreiber and so on and so forth.
In fact, all the performances of the nineteen century had their counterpart for the nursery. We say the nursery, but soon the parents got madly involved into the arts of toytheatre.
The scenery includes the background and the wings and various drops to be arranged at will on the stage. We are going to talk about Richard the third of Shakespeare which was adapted to the small theatre and comprises about twenty backdrops and props of the kind a nineteen century designer would think about when he is confronting the middle ages. Of course, its a gothick revival all over the play and for the aesthetically minded, its a real feast. Richard the third is available from Pollocks , England and MDE productions the editor of these sheets. They have been restored sometimes and printed again on old victorian presses and printing equipment.
The motion of the characters across the stage
The cardboard character usually is being clipped into a metallic slide and moves about from one side to the next, left to right or right to left in front of the spectator. There is no character who enters the background as the small character being flat, would appear that way and it would be a disaster. We are talking of cardboard characters here, but of course that can be upgraded to plywood or plastic. It is not tri-dimensional like lead soldiers.
An alternative is to build grooves on the stage and move about the character. This is what is doing the museum of Hanau in Germany.
Another device for motion is to hang the character via the head. This has been seen also in Germany in the nineteen century.
The best device is built by the Danes in Copenhagen.
The slide is able to clip the cardboard and rotate it on its axis, which gives the illusion of a character entering and rotating to exit as in real life; Most characters on ordinary slides cannot rotate and so go back on their tracks but the danish slides allow that type of natural exiting.
It is also possible to combine the motion of a jumping jack character, ie the arms and legs within the frame of a toytheatre. One has to build rails above where the character hangs by the head and pull the thread from below. This stage has no platform like in a punch and Judy booth where the professor must move his or her arms about to give life to the puppets.
A last way of giving motion is to use magnets and fix them to one characters and then proceed under the stage with a big magnet dragging to itself all the rest. It has to be rehearsed !
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