Known in Victorian times as Juvenile Drama, toy theatres were originally made as souvenirs of live theatre. Mirroring the grandeur of the great stages of London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Copenhagen and other world capitals, these colorfully designed and skillfully executed paper theaters flourished in the living rooms of families for generations, offering creative and educational activities for budding young actors and theater impresarios. Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in England still sells and commissions new toy theatres from contemporary artists.
Toy theatres will serve as the inspiration for the set design of the play La France Sauvée, ou le Tyran Détrôné.
Fig. 1 and 2.
Below are images of some of the printed plates that comprise one of Pollock’s toy theatres. The University of Washington’s Drama Library has a small collection of published toy theatre volumes.
Video 1. Youtube video on the construction and operation of a paper theater
Video 2. Documentary on the UCSD Geisel Library’s Paper Theater Festival
Image and Video Citations:
Fig. 1. Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop. Pantomime Theater with Cinderella. Digital Image. Available at: Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop. Accessed May 14, 2019. https://www.pollocks-coventgarden.co.uk/categories/toy-theatres/.
Fig. 2. Pellerin Imagerie, Grand Théâtre Nouveau. ca. 1889, color lithograph. Private collection of Eric G. Bernard, on display at Bruce Museum, A Child’s View: 19th-Century Paper Theatres. Available at: Bruce Museum. Accessed May 14, 2019. https://brucemuseum.org/site/exhibitions_detail/a_childs_view_19th-century_paper_theaters.
Fig. 3-6. Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Victoria : An Original Pollock’s Toy Theater with Cinderella & R.L. Stevenson’s Essay, Penny Plain, Twopence Coloured. London: Pollock’s Toy Theatres, 1972.
Video 1. Sandra Bell, Tips on building a Paper Toy Theater or mini stage. Available at: YouTube. Published October 27, 2018. https://youtu.be/ADNo3PSz-wo.
Video 2. University of California Television (UCTV), Celebrating Paper Theater. Available at: YouTube. Published June 6, 2018. https://youtu.be/oxHYjizo1Xs.