Paper Theatre: Osian Attempt

At a Paper Theatre workshop we were given a brief history of paper/toy Theatre and shown some colour heavy examples of theatre set designs by David Hockney.

Toy theatres (sometimes called paper theatres) became popular at around the beginning of the 19th century and so a lot of the work we were shown was styled very specifically to that period. Toy theatre would come in sets imitating well- established stage plays which were popular at the time so I think for a long time they were limited to being children’s playthings. Most of the examples of popular Toy theatre kits we were shown were quite drab and very stage-traditional but we also got a glimpse at some more experimental, interesting spin-offs of the paper theatre.Of these, i think most successful were the backlit paper theatre boxes which used black figures to cast a silhouette as the presented image. I liked this one better as black and white images seemed to suit the small scale of the medium more than patterns and colours.    

However, after being shown David Hockney’s stage designs, I was enthusiastic about creating some bright, luminous colours in my paper theatre design.





Of the examples we were shown beforehand, i liked most the ones that layered colours at different parts of the ‘stage’ as they came downstage. My basic concept was to create an ice-age cold world, which is under threat from an expanding sun. Image

Having not put much consideration into the sizes of my Theatre set pieces meant that when put onstage, the piles of colours looked very over-crowded.  At a second attempt at this, i’d make the pieces a lot smaller togive the pieces a lot more space in the theatre. 

Also, because of the tools i’d used to create the thing (Thin card-board Pizza boxes), the stage and set sag under their own weight so the end result looks a bit of a squalid attempt. Image

When i was small i used to paint small figurines and the frustration i got from making mistakes on them was brought back to me by my common errors on this little project. I’ve got a lot more comfortable with organising images on a flat canvas or page than i have anything else, and paper theatre isn’t yet the medium that’s dragging me away from my preferred art-forms.  


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