theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
A delightful exhibition of early 19th century toy theatres, scenery and characters opened last week at London’s Guildhall Library. It is devoted to the sheets published by Hodgson & Co from his shop in Newgate Street and his successor Orlando Hodgson. Hodgson was not the first to issue toy theatre sheets but launched himself into the trade in 1821 in direct competition to William West, the original theatrical print publisher established in 1811, and revolutionised the trade by turning the notion of fragmentary ‘souvenir sheets’ into complete, performable plays with a full complement of characters, scenes and specially adapted scripts.
To many people these black and white or brightly coloured engravings were amusements for children to cut out and play with but, both then and now, there have been many adult enthusiasts – as shown by the packed houses for some recent performances given by Young Blood and Friends – but these popular prints are also a valuable source of theatre history. Closely modelled on actual productions, they are a rare record of the scenery, costuming and histrionic manner of performance of the London stage. For the earliest known examples in 1811 they provide a unique record of almost every popular melodrama, pantomime and theatrical spectacle of the age.
The Guildhall display, curated by Horatio Blood and Peter Ross, with the invaluable assistance of David Powell and Barry Clarke, sets out to emphasise the fact that Hodgson’s prints really do represent the British stage in miniature. The exhibition includes both printed sheets of characters and scenes, original playbills for the productions concerned and actual model theatres, including some facsimiles that have been provided so that visitors can try their hand at performance on them.
Thanks to the generosity of private collectors, the Museum of London, the British Museum and Guildford Museum, the exhibition includes a wealth of visual material, most of which has never been displayed before. Watercolours by Robert Cruikshank, whose flamboyant exuberance was highly influential on toy theatre art, printed prosceniums of London theatres, and a tinsel picture of Mr Farley as Grindoff, the arch-villain of the explosive melodrama The Miller and his Men, capture the excitement and enchantment of this still neglected period of theatrical history. Star billing goes to the oldest known surviving toy theatre dating from the early nineteenth century, kindly lent by Guildford Museum, which is displayed with a unique contemporary cut-out production of The Elephant of Siam as performed at the Adelphi Theatre in 1829.
As film critic and historian – and an expert on toy theatre – David Robinson said at the opening of the exhibition, “The people who issued the toy theatre prints were not just printers: they were impresarios – and impresarios who presented not just the legitimate repertoire of the patent houses but the whole range of London’s popular theatre.
Howard Loxton © 2007
Originally published on R&V 14-11-07
"Tell me a fact, and I'll learn. Tell me a truth, and I'll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever." - Steve Sabol, NFL Films
The Nazis assigned him a number but I wanted the world to know his name.
Archaeology News, Interesting Facts and More
Being a web log for the observations of actor, author, cartoonist, comedian, critic, director, humorist, journalist, master of ceremonies, performance artist, playwright, producer, publicist, public speaker, songwriter, and variety booker Trav S.D.
LOIS BRYAN Photography and Digital Art
A Green future for the Isle of Wight
a world travel photo blog by Jackie Hadel
Music means something
Literatura y consejos.
A Backward Look Forward
Freelance Film Critic
Sharing my paintings
Various Illustrations both previous and ongoing.
Making stuff and pootling in the garden
it's all about the story, possums...
drunk on the arts
Loving yourself & Living with Scleroderma!
Walking blogger exploring London's hidden gems, sights and history!
A journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle
"The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it." Diana Vreeland
by Itamar Dias
National Trust news, events and insight
Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History
Culture Blogger | Theatre Lover | Follow my Journalism journey | BA Journalism Grad. 2016 @SunderlandUni | Views are my own
Ideas on writing and baking
Artisan Jewelry | Accessories | Vintage | Digital Products | Handicrafts
Things from the past and present which may some some relevance in our future
Our space has a real effect on our emotions. Simply change your room arrangements to change your mood. Start to observe your surroundings to feel calm, relaxed and Happy.
the stories behind the pictures, and vice versa
Bespoke Handcrafted Woodwork & Artwork
A collection of fragments more than the sum of its shards
art & illustration
Exploring the world of Paleontology through new scientific articles, photos, and art
Promoting a Peaceful Political Revolution
All things sporadic!
The war diary of Ernest Lawrence Garraway, 1916 - 1917
Life in 19th Century Paris
the phenomenon of reflection
James Radcliffe, Musician. Music, Blog, Pictures, Live, News...