British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild Forum Index
THE MESSAGE BOARD OF THE ORIGINAL PUPPETRY ORGANISATION
FAQ   Profile  Log in to check your private messages   Memberlist  Search  Register  Log in
The Very Model of a Model Theatre

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild Forum Index -> Toy Theatre - Model Theatre
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Ian



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:30 pm    Post subject: The Very Model of a Model Theatre Reply with quote

I’ve recently been researching the work of 1950s puppeteer, Wilf Thwaites of Leeds, who was a professional graphic artist whose interest in marionettes developed from an earlier interest in Toy Theatre. Newspaper cuttings I’ve read, indicate that he was aiming to produce the complete works of Gilbert & Sullivan in miniature and had certainly completed most of them by 1955, by which time, he had transferred his skills to the marionette, winning the Bulto Bowl for the best circus puppet at the 1955 Exhibition.

Does anyone know if he ever finished the task of completing all the Savoy Operas?

This, I presume, is Yeomen of the Guard. Badly out of focus, unfortunately, but this is the best picture I have of Wilf’s Toy Theatre work.



Here is a picture of Wilf with the Bulto Bowl and his winning entry “Blotto.”



I’ve often wondered about the origin of the oddly-named “Bulto Bowl” and while reading up on Wilf Thwaites, also came across this picture of Stan Bult, the originator of the Award. According to ‘The World’s Fair’ he was Secretary of the International Circus Clown Club (European Section).

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Oct 2007
Posts: 209
Location: North Wales

PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember Wilf Thwaites, he was from my neck of the woods. I don't know if he completed the full G&S set.

You mention his change from being a toy theatre enthusiast to a wider interest in puppetry. That actually mirrors the Guild itself which, in its origins, was very much a Model Theatre Guild. Whanny's influential "EVERYBODY'S THEATRE AND HOW TO MAKE IT" was primarily about the model theatre. He does discuss puppets in the second half of the book and doubtless many were inspired by these chapters. But many of the early marionettes were very small reflecting the table-top nature of the appeal.
_________________
Chris Somerville of the Harlequin Puppet Theatre
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Ian



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There certainly did seem to be an obsession with extremely tiny puppets in the early Guild days. In fact, when I was reading through news cuttings about Wilf Thwaites he mentioned that when he built the first of his G&S productions, he performed it for friends but wasn't happy with it because the figures were too big, so he completely re-built it with smaller figures and then stuck to that smaller size for the remainder of the productions. He felt that the smaller size hid the lack of movement better and gave the audience the impression of sitting in the gods at the theatre.

While on the subject of your neck of the woods, did you ever visit Leeds Empire? I came across a mention of it recently and having visited the City Varieties a few times over the years, I was trying to picture where the Empire was, but couldn't place it. When I did a search on the internet, I found it is now Harvey Nichols, but if you walk in through the back entrance of Harvey Nichols, you are walking through the exact position where the dock doors would have been onto the stage. Something to do when we next go to have a look at the results of the City Varieties refurbishment!

I understand Leeds Empire was a particular favourite among variety performers because of its intimate auditorium, which also became its downfall because it couldn't accommodate larger shows.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Oct 2007
Posts: 209
Location: North Wales

PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny you should mention Leeds. Last week I was talking to some visitors to the Harlequin, they were from Bradford and we were discussing the Alhambra (which is still flourishing) and the theatres that have gone. This couple were real enthusiasts and seemed knowledgeable.

I asked about the Leeds Grand and they said it was still going - which pleased me. Last time I saw a pantomime in Leeds it was at the Grand, and Paul and Peta Page were on the bill doing a UV spec sequence.

I scarcely remember the Empire Palace although I was taken to a panto there as a child. By the time I returned to Leeds in the '60s, when we were working for Yorkshire Television, it had been demolished and turned into the Empire Arcade. Apparently that has now gone and replaced by a department store.

There was also another variety house in Leeds, the Tivoli, also long gone.
_________________
Chris Somerville of the Harlequin Puppet Theatre
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
EEK



Joined: 13 Oct 2010
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stan Bult was the painter of the original Clown Eggs as shown in the photograph.

The collection is now housed in Wookey Hole (owned by Gerry Cottle) and contains the surviving original Stan Bult eggs - not many of them though as they were painted on real blown eggs and were incredibly fragile. A lot were destroyed whilst on loan to an exhibition.

The 250 ('ish) eggs are well worth a visit if you're in the area and supposedly are for registering a Clowns unique make up so it can't be copied - a sort of face register.

There are about 30 eggs still in the Clown Church in London (Dalston).

The egg register continues to this day and a new egg artist was appointed by Clowns International earlier this year.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Ian



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that additional info Eek. Having already visited the Clowns International Exhibition at Wookey Hole, if only I had known the Guild connection beforehand, I would have paid closer attention to the eggs collection, but, I presume, like most first time visitors, my attention was drawn to the marvellous collection of costumes and props.

I really liked the noticeable Gerry Cottle Circus influence at Wookey Hole, particularly the fantastic collection of Circus Posters in the Restaurant area. I hope they're doing well in these tough times.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild Forum Index -> Toy Theatre - Model Theatre All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum