Immediately following the company’s 10th International Toy Theater Festival in Brooklyn, New York, Great Small Works and friends will present an evening of paper theater shows at the Haybarn Theatre. Suitable for audiences of all ages.
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The program includes a separate show from each company: Facto Teatro from Mexico City, Barbara Steinitz and Björn Kollin from Berlin, and Great Small Works from New York City. Read below for descriptions.
Facto Teatro: 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: 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: 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.
ABOUT TOY THEATER
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.
Twenty years of growth – and nine festivals later – Great Small Works will present its 10th International Toy Theater Festival and Temporary Toy Theater Museum at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO, Brooklyn, from June 14th through 23rd. Together with two of the visiting international companies, Great Small Works offers highlights from the festival for this performance at Goddard College.
ABOUT THE COMPANIES
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, prisons, street corners, and other public spaces, producing work on many scales, from gigantic outdoor spectacles with scores of volunteers, to miniature shows in living rooms. In curated festivals, cabarets and Soirees, Great Small Works collaborates with artists from varied traditions, provides performance opportunities for artists in diverse genres, and engages the participation of young artists in the process of finding their own voices. 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 (1997) and 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). Its members are John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi and Mark Sussman.
Facto Teatro was formed in Mexico City in 2007 by Alejandro Benítez (actor and puppeteer) and Mauricio Martínez (actor and pedagogue). Facto Teatro seeks to create an interactive form of theater that will enable the audience to engage in its productions. The theater incorporates new forms of artistic discourse with a critical objective, allowing the public to enter into a form of entertainment free from prejudices and established formulas.
The company's first work, Panteón de fiesta (Fiesta Graveyard), was commissioned by The Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County for the 1st International Festival of Toy Theater of the Music Center of Los Angeles in June 2008. This commission was supported also by a grant from The Jim Henson Foundation. Since then, the company has performed at Teatro La Puntual, Barcelona, Spain (2009); Papiertheatertreffen, Preetz, Germany (2010, 2011); Teatr Grotesca, Krakow and Centrum Lowicka, Poland (2010); Great Small Works’ International Toy Theater Festival, Brooklyn, NY (2008, 2010); Rencontres Intenationales de Theatres de Papier, Pays d’Epernay, France (2011); and many festivals and theaters throughout Mexico.
Don Chico con Alas is performed by:
Antonio Cerezo studied Dramatic Literature and Theatre at the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) and in New York City. Since 1992 he has worked professionally as an actor, choreographer and director in Mexico City, the United States and Europe. He spent 7 years in New York City performing at La MaMa etc, Lincoln Center, Mabou Mines, The Ohio Theater and St Ann’s Warehouse. He currently lives and works in Germany where he has performed at Berliner Festspiele, Volksbühne and in Theaterhaus Jena. Don Chico con alas is his first collaboration with Facto Teatro.
Mauricio Martínez, Co-founder and Artistic Director of Facto Teatro, studied Dramatic Literature and Theatre at the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM). He has specialized in the manipulation of puppets for television, poetry, sound engineering and theater pedagogy, and has participated as an actor, director, adapter and sound engineer in over fifteen theatrical productions. In the field of education he works as a professor of theater, literature, movement and arts education in several schools in Mexico City. He has collaborated with the Ministry of Education as head of the Secondary School Theatre Program, which is part of the reform of secondary education by training teachers in theater across the country.
Alejandro Benítez, Co-founder and Managing Director of Facto Teatro, is an actor, puppeteer and drummer. He studied Dramatic Literature and Theatre at the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM). He took the improvisation workshop with the Latin American League of Improvisation and the training course with the renowned director and acting teacher Ludwik Margules. He has worked as an actor and studio musician and as a puppeteer has performed in theaters, television (the Latin American version of Sesame Street) and TV internet.
Barbara Steinitz studied communication-design and illustration in Saarbrücken/Germany and Barcelona/Spain. After getting her diploma in 2004 she completed a voluntary service in Granada/Nicaragua; teaching workshops in arts and crafts for adults and children at the cultural institution Casa de los Tres Mundos, she started to explore and include puppet-theater within her work as an illustrator. In Nicaragua she got to know the author Gioconda Belli, for whom she illustrated her first book („Die Blume und der Baum“, Peter Hammer Editorial, Wuppertal 2006). After writing and illustrating her own picture book “Schnurzpiepegal” (Bajazzo Verlag Zürich, 2009) she created a paper theatre show out of this book in collaboration with the musician Björn Kollin. In the last three years they have been been touring with this show in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Mexico, presenting it in schools, libraries and theatre festivals. She received the Austrian Children’s Book Award, the Troisdorfer Picture Book Award and a nomination for the German Children’s Book Award. She lives in Berlin and works as a freelance illustrator, author and puppeteer.
Björn Kollin 1998-2000 apprenticeship as a wood sculptor in Flensburg; 2000-2002 studies of audiovisual arts in Saarbrücken with professor Christina Kubisch, 2002-2004 studies of sculpture at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin with professor Tony Cragg, 2004-2005 master class student of professor Tony Cragg. Since 2005 freelancing composer, musician and artist, lives and works in Berlin.