Monday, July 13, 2020

We support the movement for Black lives

Great Small Works is fully in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and  honored to bring all of our creative and communal power to the struggle for justice, safety and well being for all Black people.  We are grateful for the brilliant multi-generational leadership of Black organizers, and look forward to following their lead in the work of transforming our world.  We commit to deepening our  abolitionist study, to sitting with discomfort, and to reckon with our collective past.  A task, In the words of Professor Angela Davis, that should have happened 150 years ago.  We will try many things.  We will put our bodies on the line. We will join the fight against white supremacy from our homes, in all the ways we can.  We will continue to make art, and regalia for street protests.  We will donate to Black led organizations and continue to partner with colleagues in many different Black communities.  We will cite the layers of Black aesthetic and political wisdom that have always informed our work. We will maintain our open studio space, Building Stories, as a place where movement art and exploration of all kinds can happen.  We want BIPOC puppeteers and makers to specifically know the space is available to them.  Finally, we encourage all puppeteers to feel they can use their skills in this moment to be solid co-conspirators in building Black Liberation.  We know this liberation frees us all!   While we may not have huge financial reserves, we are wealthy in experience, success, and failure. We have methods and models to share with our community.  We will keep our website ( and other social media sites updated with materials that embody BLM values.  To The best of our ability, we will make ourselves available to communicate with folk who have questions or want support in building their own movement engagement.  

During the upcoming nights of  "Isolating Together: Online International Toy Theater Festival" Days 5 and 6, Great Small Works will invite ourselves, participating artists and the whole audience to support the creativity of BIPOC puppeteers donating all of our show proceeds to The Black Puppeteer Empowerment Grant & Creative Research Residency under the leadership of Program Mentor Brad Brewer through an initiative by Puppet Showplace Theater, Brookline Ma.  We see the larger goal to be bringing more resources to the field of puppetry in general, and to removing obstacles to participation for BIPOC individuals,  and everyone marginalized by systemic exclusion.   As we work towards that goal we puppeteers can, in the words of Andrea J. Ritchie, Miriam Kaba and Woods Ervin, create a  "society based on mutual accountability, a passionate reciprocity and collective liberation. In the words of Grace Lee Boggs, "we are all part of the problem, so we are all part of the solution."
Going forward we will study the 'We See You White American Theater" statement and demands.  Though our theater work is on a smaller scale, we believe that the  materials our BIPOC peers have offered in this road map is invaluable to making necessary change happen in all realms of theater and performance.  

Online International Toy Theater Festival Day #5 and Day #6

We're back! Coming again to a personal screen near you!
Another two nights of Toy Theater wonders.
More colossal events of miniature proportions.

Thursday, July 16th, 7:30PM
Sunday, July 19th, 7:30PM
Presented by Great Small Works: John Bell, Trudi Cohen (Cambridge, MA), Jenny Romaine (New York, NY), Stephen Kaplin (Jackson Heights, NY), Roberto Rossi (Red Hook, NY) and Mark Sussman (Montreal, QC)


All proceeds from Days #5 and #6 of Isolating Together will go to The Black Puppeteer Empowerment Grant & Creative Research Residency under the leadership of Program Mentor Brad Brewer through an initiative by Puppet Showplace Theater Brookline, MA. Congratulations to the first grantee cohort!

With thanks to the Puppetslam Network, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, and the Mental Insight Foundation for their generous support.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

how to stream puppet shows live

On the heels of four successful nights of Great Small Works online Toy Theater Festival, "Isolating Together," John Bell, Trudi Cohen and Lindsey Wagner gave an online workshop for the Association Quebecois des Marionettistes.

You can watch it here, in English and French:

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Day 3 of International Toy Theater Festival Online

You can watch the 43 wonderful shows created for Isolating Together -- Great Small Works' first online Toy Theater Festival -- here:

AND --

We invite you to watch Day #3, on Thursday, April 30th at 7:30 PM

Live at:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Virtual Toy Theater Festival

Isolating Together
Great Small Works' online Toy Theater Festival

Attend via Facebook Live:

April 2, 7:30 to 9PM -

April 3, 7:30 to 9PM -

Toy Theater practitioners from around the world will offer original (very) short shows. From the intimacy of the Victorian parlor to the intimacy of your personal viewing device, puppeteers transform the traditional form to reach out during these days of separation.

Line-up coming soon!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Work Sample Video now live

Here's a 5-minute glimpse into the projects of Great Small Works.

Great Small Works Work Sample 2020

Examples of recent Great Small Works productions showing how we realize our mission of creating high level art work, and keeping theater at the heart of social life.  Productions featured include Spaghetti Dinners(cabaret), Honk(festival), Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls(touring show), Purim(community based residency), Horizons youth facility(teaching), The Sukkos Mob(Street performing), River to River Festival (Processional theater) The Rapture Project (Sicilian Marionette Puppet show) and more. 

Thank you, Jenny, and Mary Feaster!

And while we're at it, you might enjoy these clips as well:

Work Sample Toy Theater
Footage from current Great Small Works touring productions in the Toy Theater form. Examples of teaching toy theater, and our effect on the field through the hosting of 10 Toy Theater Festivals. 

 Work Sample "Soul Songs Inspiring Women of Klezmer: Composers Orchestra"
Excerpt from 2018 Performance designed and costumed by Jenny Romaine/ Great Small Works
GSW dwells in communities of  artists who are deeply connected to tradition.  Our experience with experimental art has shown us that to create something new we want a relationship to ancestors. We pay attention to the integrity of traditional forms in service of evolution and the future.  All of the work by the composers in in the clip is new! Summoned into being by fourth-generation Philly klezmer legend trumpeter Susan Watts.

Work Sample: Great Small Works Studio life
This clip shows how the GSW studio is a hub of creativity that houses many projects, and brings theater to tens of thousands of People. Examples include Building Stories, 2019 Reclaim Pride and the 2019 Sunrise Movements "Road To A Green New Deal Tour".  

Monday, March 2, 2020

GSW's Toy Theater stage on display at the Ballard Museum

In the mid-1990's, Great Small Works created a Toy Theater production called "Olivier's Hamlet." It was made from a Toy Theater kit created by Lawrence Olivier and based on his 1948 film of the play. The Toy Theater characters include Olivier and the other film actors. Great Small Works' version interspersed texts from Olivier's journals with a truncated adaptation of the Shakespeare script.

We are proud to be represented in the Ballard Institute and Museum's newest exhibit, "Shakespeare and Puppets," curated by Dr. Yungmin Song.