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Pontine Theater to Host Great Small Works Traveling Toy Theater Festival, 6/26


Immediately following the Great Small Works' Tenth International Toy Theater Festival in Brooklyn, New York, Great Small Works and friends will present an evening of paper theater shows at the West End Studio Theater, hosted by Pontine Theater. The program includes performances by Facto Teatro from Mexico City, Barbara Steinitz and Björn Kollin from Berlin, and Great Small Works from New York City.

Tickets are $15 and are available online at Tickets are also available at the door (cash & checks only) a half-hour prior to the 7:30pm performance, based on availability. Pontine's West End Studio Theatre is located at 959 Islington Street, Portsmouth NH. Contact Pontine at / 603-436-6660. The program features:

Facto Teatro (Mexico City): Don Chico Con Alas (Don Chico with Wings)

Based on a story by the Mexican writer Eraclio Zepeda, Facto Teatro's Don Chico lives in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico. To go from one village to another he must come down the mountain, cross the jungle, then the river and up the opposite hill. He decides he needs to fly and builds a pair of wings, to reach the sky before national holidays. A story of ingenuity, creativity, surrealism and human adventure, which tells us that, for some, the sky is the limit. Created and performed by Alejandro Benítez, Mauricio Martínez and Antonio Cerezo.

Barbara Steinitz and Björn Kollin (Berlin): Schnurzpiepegal (Like Master, Like Dog)

A picture book written and illustrated by Ms. Steinitz is brought to life, performed out of a suitcase, with live music created and played on an array of instruments by Mr. Kollin.

While walking through the city, one can see that all dogs look like their owners. But there are some exceptions: Leonora loves operas more than anything and shares a happy life with her dog Fidelio, who doesn't look like her at all. Two blocks from their home lives another odd couple, Joshua and his dog Pistachia, who share a passion for home made chocolates. In the street people wrinkle their noses and laugh about Leonora and Joshua who don't match with their dogs at all. A humorous love story about outsiders who overcome their loneliness and people's prejudices by accepting themselves.

Great Small Works (New York City): Sandy Sandy Sandy

A terrible storm has just hit, and the underwater population of New York is dealing with its aftermath. In the wake of the mega storm sea creatures, water spirits, coral, seaweed and drunken sailors struggle to piece together their lives and their housing. The third installment of an oral history-based soap opera about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy will take place in a fish tank transformed into a toy theater by miniaturist veteran Jenny Romaine, and designer Roberto Rossi, both members of Great Small Works.

Using flat, paper cut-out figures and miniature scenery, Toy Theater (also known as "paper theater" and "model theater") originated with 19th-century advances in printing and engraving. The original toy theaters of Europe were complete dramas modeled on stage hits of the day, do-it-yourself home entertainment kits containing scripts, characters, and scenery which you could take home, assemble, and perform for friends and family. Intrigued by its versatility, accessibility and low cost, Great Small Works discovered the medium during the countdown to the first Gulf War in 1990 when, responding to the banal terror of the mass media, the company began a topical serial drama using texts and images cut from the daily news. They have been creating original Toy Theater shows ever since, teaching Toy Theater to people of all ages, inspiring both performing and visual artists to do their own Toy Theater experimentations, and producing international Toy Theater Festivals in New York City. Since 1993, Great Small Works has been in the vanguard of what has become a full-scale revival of Toy Theater in the U.S. Says company member Trudi Cohen: "We hope our audiences will come away saying 'I want to do that too,' and Toy Theater will be recognized as a medium for universal self-expression."

In awarding an OBIE grant to Great Small Works, then-theater critic Ross Wetzsteon said, "Puppets, yes, but they can be as powerful when they're tiny as when they're gargantuan...[Great Small Works has] breathed new, pointed life into the form of toy theater."

Twenty years of growth - and nine festivals later - Great Small Works presents its 10th International Toy Theater Festival and Temporary Toy Theater Museum at St. Ann's Warehouse in DUMBO, Brooklyn, from 14 - 23 June.

Great Small Works was founded in 1995 by a collective of six artists, all veterans of Bread and Puppet Theater, who explore traditional popular theater and puppet forms to reflect contemporary life. Great Small Works performs in theaters, schools, parks, libraries, museums, street corners, and other public spaces, producing work on many scales, from gigantic outdoor spectacles, to miniature shows in living rooms. In community-based pageants and parades, the company works with groups of students, activists and artists to address issues of common concern. 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 received a Village Voice Obie Award and two UNIMA/USA Citations for Excellence; a New York Foundation for the Arts Community Assets Grant, and the Puppeteers of America's Jim Henson Award for innovation in puppetry. Its members are John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi and Mark Sussman.

Pictured: Barbara Steinitz and Björn Kollin of Berlin will perform as part of the "Great Small Works Traveling Toy Theater Festival," at Pontine's West End Studio Theatre on Wednesday 26 June at 7:30pm.

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