Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Toy Theater at MPD

"Toy Theaters, Worlds in Miniature"
Twenty-one rare toy theaters from around the world
at the Museum of Performance and Design
Veterans Building / 401 Van Ness Avenue / 4th floor
Open Wed - Sat, 12 - 5pm

I was lucky enough to get a private tour of this show with the curator, Bill Eddelman. His knowledge and enthusiasm for toy theater is infectious and I soon found myself imagining my own handmade dioramas. The assembled theaters, full of 2D actors and stage sets, tiny lights, toy furniture and paper moons, were mostly in glass cases - good thing because I had an irresistible urge to put my hands in them and start moving things around. Took me right back to childhood.

The theaters are from all over the world and the show is organized by country of origin. Mostly classical fairy tales and opera are represented, and they're mostly Victorian Era theaters (ranging from the 18th century to present.) Besides the constructed theaters, the walls are full of flat printed sheets of more paper-doll-like actors, backdrops and props.

For those of us who like to know what goes on behind the curtain, the construction and workings of the theaters can be seen from the sides. I was reminded of contemporary artists who have recently exhibited work with toy theaters - Sandow Birk and William Kentridge. And I couldn't help thinking that this is a art form that would appeal to the SteamPunk and Make crowds.

Actually, it appeals to me.

More photos at MPD's Flickr site.


Janet said...

OOOH! These are wonderful. I've been a sucker for dioramas since we had to make them in elementary school (shoebox dioramas for history & nature were for some reason a popular project in my school in 2nd through 5th grades). Thank you for posting!

吳婷婷 said...
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namastenancy said...

I am so sorry that I completely forgot about the opening! But I gave it a plug at the Examiner and my blog. It's just the kind of show that appeals to all my love of theater and tiny worlds of imagination and exquisite design.

Trish said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for posting this about the exhibition! There are many of us around the world that cannot attend, but are avid toy theatre enthusiasts. Word is getting around via group lists and just plain old word-of-mouth. Too bad there will be no catalogue of the exhibition - many of us would willing pay for one. Bravo for the museum showcasing juvenile theatre!

namastenancy said...

There's a great overview of toy theaters over at Venetian Red:

You can also find the link via my blog: