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16th Annual Paper Theatre Festival


  • WHEN Multiple dates from Feb 10 - Feb 12, 2018[days & times]
  • WHERE UC San Diego Library, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093
    Map | Website
  • AGES All ages
  • COST Free

16th Annual Paper Theatre Festival
Paper Theatre: It’s the smallest show on Earth!

This scale-model educational toy is being re-discovered and celebrated at a free festival and exhibition in the Seuss Room of Geisel Library UC San Diego.

Paper theatre, also called table top theatre or toy theatre, dates back to the Victorian Era. Families constructed these theatres from poster kits with scripts, scenery sheets and paper doll actors included.

Festival Dates:
- Feb. 10 and 12 from noon to 5 p.m. (Impromptu performances throughout the day)
- Monday, Feb. 12 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Formal performance at noon on Monday)

This three-day exhibit at the UC San Diego Library features replicas of Victorian Era paper theatres as well as modern versions of the toy. Live performances are featured throughout each day.

In the Victorian Era, theatrical playhouses printed fine souvenir posters showing architectural elements of their theatre. Aspects of set design were shown on the posters along with representations of actual actors of the company (shown in costume from a specific production). Condensed scripts were included in these poster kits and paper doll players were soon seen in lively productions on a table top at home, with many aspects of theatre arts being introduced to producers and performers of all ages.

From these posters, families and hobbyists would cut out the proscenium, the curtain, etc., to create a scale model of that specific theatre. These paper theatre hobbyists ended up learning much about scenic design, lighting effects, sound effects, music cues, acting, directing—all through this paper theatre toy.

Theatre-goers often bought these paper theatre posters as souvenirs promoting an actual production they saw. Those living far from the theatre district ordered paper theatres from a catalog and had them delivered to their town as an educational toy for the household. A lot of cutting and pasting was involved but hours of educational fun and artistic exploration would follow. The many two-dimensional layers of a paper theatre add up to something with surprising depth and charm.

Exhibit and accompanying live events of this Paper Theatre Festival are free and open to the public.

For more information, call (858) 822-5758, visit our website or email

Dates and times of events are subject to change without notice. Always check the event organizer's website for the most updated schedule before attending.

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