2021-2022 Workshops

Toy Theatre: Design, Fabrication and Playwriting 

Please note that this workshop is now full. If you would like to get on the waiting list, please fill out the registration form.

Multiregional program*

Workshop Leaders : Trudi Cohen, Jenny Romaine, Joe Therrien and Mark Sussman, The Great Small Works company
Dates and time : Saturday, February 26 to Tuesday, March 1, 2022, 10 AM to 5 PM
Duration : 24 hours
Location : Collège Notre-Dame, atelier Frère Jérôme (studio b132), 3791 Chem. Queen Mary, Montreal, QC H3V 1A8

Number of participants : 20
Level** : All levels
Price : 170 $

This workshop will be conducted mainly in English.

*Multiregional program : Participants coming from outside the workshop location (more than 50 km) are eligible for reimbursement of their travel and accommodation expenses. Places are limited and upon registration only, ask us about it!

The actual unsubsidized cost of this workshop is $563.

Workshop syllabus

Great Small Works will introduce the 19 th century history of Toy Theater (also called paper theater) — the pleasures of its traditional practice in Victorian parlors, and contemporary revival on stages and in classrooms around the world. Reference materials – both historic and contemporary adaptations of the form – will be presented. Participants will be shown some basic techniques and materials.

First day everyone will do a short exercise with found images and texts. Then we will discuss specific individual ideas about design and dramaturgy. And then everyone will break up into small groups to create their own original toy theater pieces.

Each day will include sharing of resource materials, and the full group gathering to discuss questions relevant to everyone. Step One is building the stage, and deciding about how the puppetry will function within it. Step Two is decorating the stage. Step Three is image research, or creation, resulting in puppets and scenery. Simultaneous with this physical work is the dramaturgical work – deciding on story, scene development, texts and sound.

Great Small Works company members will work individually with each group, offering technical support, guiding show structure, giving puppet manipulation advice and direction.

By the fourth day, all groups will be rehearsing their pieces. Workshop leaders will support these rehearsals and give ongoing feedback. The workshop will culminate with performance — participants presenting the results of their efforts to each other.

Our workshop will present the history and practice of this intimate and highly accessible puppetry form. It will offer a chance to construct a toy theater stage and scenery and figures, and to put together a multi-scene story. Participants will learn the value of Toy Theater as a teaching tool, both in curriculum-based school environments, and in community programs. Most of all, they will discover the possibilities of this historic parlor entertainment for telling the grandest of tales with the simplest of means.

Anyone who would like to consider subject matter for their piece in advance of the workshop is encouraged to do so.  A song, a poem, a location, an anecdote, a political idea, a hero, a news item, a dream, what I ate for breakfast, what I saw walking to the post office – there are infinite possibilities.


Photo credit: Blue Skies, photo: Rainer Sennewald, design: Trudi Cohen, Cate Kelley et Ron Kelley

Main objectives

The general objective of the workshop is to introduce participants to Toy theatre so that they can implement all the steps required to create – design, fabrication and playwriting – a paper theatre play.

Secondary objectives

At the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Develop a creative paper theater play, from ideation to performance;
  2. Understand and integrate the historical parameters of paper theater into a theatrical creation;
  3. Identify the physical possibilities and limitations of paper theater materials;
  4. Build all the scenic elements of paper theater (build the design and characters);
  5. Understand the important aspects of dramaturgy to consider in order to transpose them into the writing of a toy theatre play.

Workshop Leaders

The Great Small Works company

Great Small Works was founded in 1995 by a collective of six artists, all veterans of Bread and Puppet Theater, to create theater of high artistic quality and to keep theater at the heart of social life. The company draws on puppet, avant-garde and popular theater traditions to tell contemporary stories. We perform 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 and decades-running Spaghetti Dinners, we collaborate with artists from varied traditions, provide performance opportunities for artists in diverse genres, and engage young artists in the process of finding their own voices. In community-based pageants and parades, we work with students, activists and artists to address issues of concern to them. On any scale Great Small Works productions seek to renew, cultivate and strengthen the spirits of their audiences, believing in theater as a model for participating in democracy.

Terms and additional information

*Multiregional program : Participants comming from outside the workshop location (more than 50 km) are eligible for reimbursement of their travel and accommodation expenses. Places are limited and upon registration only, ask us about it!

**Level: This workshop is intended for professional artists practicing in the province of Quebec.

Candidates must first fill the registration form. Upon receipt, the AQM will confirm the eligibility of participants. Registration is then confirmed upon receipt of payment. Refund and cancellation policy as well as eligibility requirements are available online.


If a workshop is cancelled due to Covid-19, the AQM will refund registered participants. If you develop symptoms or test positive for Covid-19 prior to attending a workshop, you must notify AQM and you will be refunded.The number of participants and the size of the facilities are calculated to ensure that the distance of 2 meters between people is respected. Participants must wear a mask at all times. More details will be communicated to the participants according to each workshop and the government directives in place to ensure that the public health guidelines are respected.

Photos used to promote this workshop were taken before the Covid-19 pandemic.

More information : 514-270-2717, ext 3, communications@aqm.ca