Great Small Works: Toy Theater The Art of the UnGrand #4

An Evening of Toy Theater
with John Bell, Trudi Cohen
and Sara Peattie

A Short Entertaining History of Toy Theater: presented by the singing professor, Dr. John Bell, accompanied by toy instruments

A Walk in the Country: Sara Peattie’s latest venture into small-scale romance and sci-fi

Living Newspaper: Trudi Cohen and John Bell interpret the daily news, torn from today’s headlines

A display of historic and contemporary Toy Theater stages, scenes and images will cover the walls of the Mobius storefront. This can be viewed during show times, as well as during the listed additional gallery hours.

Thursday April 26, 2012, 7:30pm
** Friday April 27, 2012, 7:30pm
and due to high demand
** extra showing added 8:30PM! **
suggested donation: $10

additional gallery hours:
Saturday April 28, 3-7pm
Sunday April 29, 3-7pm

Video Documentation Here:

Thu Apr 26, 2012 - Sun Apr 29, 2012
















@ Mobius
55 Norfolk Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Toy Theater

Originally a popular and simple means of staging dramatic spectacles in the Victorian parlor, Toy Theater (also known as “paper theater”) originated in the 19th-century revolution in printing technologies. Enthusiastic theater-goers could purchase replicas of their favorite stages, shows, and even actors, along with truncated scripts, assemble and customize then, and re-enact classic plays at home for their family and friends. By the 20th century, however, advances in electronic media and mass culture led to the virtual extinction of this inexpensive family entertainment; the small box used to stage sumptuous dances, battles and stories in the parlor was replaced by another all-too-familiar box which has taken over modern living rooms.

For the past 20 years, Great Small Works has been exploring the Toy Theater, finding it easily affordable, limitless in scope and content, and accessible to people of all ages and persuasions. We have done miniature stagings of classics, interpretations of literature, and a series (now in its 13th episode) titled Toy Theater of Terror As Usual. We have conducted workshops with students, artists and activists in widely varying settings. We have traveled to stages in Europe and the U.S., including a festival of traditional Toy Theater in northern Germany, and have performed in places as diverse as theaters, schools, museums, parks, prisons, barns, tents, and a cave! The Terror As Usual series was made into an exhibition for the Queens Museum of Art in 2010, and was displayed in February-March 2012 at Concordia University in Montreal.

Sparking what has become a full-scale revival movement, Great Small Works has produced nine International Toy Theater Festivals in New York City since 1993, which have included hundreds of guest artists, extensive Toy Theater exhibitions, workshops, symposia, and projects with NYC public high school students. The tenth festival will take place in June 2013 at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY.

Great Small Works

Based in New York City and founded in 1995, Great Small Works is a collective of six theater artists who met through their work with Bread and Puppet Theater. The company draws on folk, avant-garde and popular theater traditions to address contemporary issues, and to keep theater at the heart of social life. Great Small Works produces shows on many scales, from giant community-based spectacles involving hundreds of participants, to miniature table-top shows in living rooms. On any scale, Great Small Works productions seek to renew, cultivate and strengthen the spirits of their audiences, promoting theater as a model for participating in democracy.

Great Small Works is a non-profit corporation whose members are John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi and Mark Sussman. The company received a Village Voice OBIE Award (1997); two UNIMA-USA Citations for Excellence (1997 and 2008); a New York Foundation for the Arts Community Assets Grant (1998), and the Puppeteers of America’s Jim Henson Award for innovation in puppetry (2005).

JOHN BELL is the director of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut. He is a leading expert on the history of puppet and popular theater, a contributing editor to TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies and to Puppetry International, and author of Strings, Hands, Shadows: A Modern Puppet History, published by the Detroit Museum of Art, Puppets, Masks and Performing Objects (MIT Press), and American Puppet Modernism (Palgrave/Macmillan). He was a member of Bread and Puppet Theater’s resident company for over a decade. At the Ballard Institute he has designed and curated ten exhibitions about global puppetry, and in April 2011 hosted the first International Puppetry Conference in the U.S. He is currently teaching puppetry classes at Harvard University, and will be the Donald Monan S.J. Professor of Theatre Arts at Boston College in the 2012-13 academic year.

TRUDI COHEN was a full-time member of Bread and Puppet Theater's resident company in Vermont for 10 years, and has performed as puppeteer in productions directed by Janie Geiser, Amy Trompetter and David Neumann.  She was Director of Great Small Works' 2008 and 2010 International Toy Theater Festivals, has curated dozens of the company’s Spaghetti Dinner events, and hosts Soiree evenings in Great Small Works’ studio for sharing of developing work.  She plays bass drum with the Boston-based Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band, and is a founder and organizer of the HONK! Festival of activist street bands in Somerville, MA.

SARA PEATTIE is the Boston-based creative spirit of The Puppeteers' Cooperative, a group of artists and puppeteers working in cities around the nation to create giant puppet parades, pageants, and ceremonies of celebration and complaint, using simple materials and movements to build community cardboard extravaganzas. She has worked with groups around the US and Canada, from Nova Scotia in the North to Florida in the South, and with festivals including the Atlanta Arts Festival and the Bumbershoot Festival of Seattle, creating semi-instantaneous pageants, art installations, and parades. Puppet Coop’s massive pageants at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival in New York have explored urban themes through workshops with large groups of city youth. Peattie’s “Triumph of the Arts" parades with the Governor's Institute on the Arts of Vermont have become a beloved tradition. She has worked with First Night of Boston and First Night International and with First Night celebrations around the country since their inception, creating both experimental commissioned parade works and sections, and spirited and colorful community group parade pieces. The Puppeteers' Cooperative is also involved with a number of interrelated groups: Hi-Art videos, which makes videos of giant puppet pageants and miniature tabletop productions; News of the Week, for mini street shows; the Back Alley Puppet Theater, which creates parades and parade puppets in the Boston area; the Puppet Free Library, which lends puppets, banners, and masks to people and institutions in the Boston area; and the Construction Section, puppet makers.