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Performing with Model Theaters


Now that you have set up your theater and prepared your scenery and figures, you are ready to perform! Some texts, or scripts, are available with plays for model theater, but scripts are also available as children’s plays and can be adapted to model theater. Check with your reference librarian.  See Creating your own plays.

Keeping the action going is important in model theater. When a character is speaking, move the figure slightly back and forth so that the viewing audience can tell who is speaking.

Be prepared to change the scenes quickly, so the audience does not loose interest. Some performers use changeable sets, as mentioned earlier, so that everything is ready to just slide in for each scene. They tape or glue scenery supports to the cardboard “floor”, or base, and can even cut slits into the cardboard to slip upright supports though for scenery. This keeps the feet of the supports out of the way of the figure sticks. Sometimes they have extra figures for each scene. If you do not use changeable sets, have the set pieces together and ready to place as fast as possible.  You may wish to have an assistant operate a narrative figure in front of the curtain between scenes!

Special effects can be achieved with lighting and moveable scenery. Some scenery is printed on both sides, so that when back lit another image shows or a change appears in the forward scene. Examples of this are a forest when back lit shows a ring of dancing fairies or an interior scene shows light coming through a window, or a daylight landscape turns to a sunset.

Some professional performers make sound tracks using friends and other performers for different voices, and adding sound effects and music. In the past, of course, this was all done live, with sounds made from various implements and voices, making performances lively and often entertaining in the method itself! A few performers still do this, and it is very fun for families or groups to do live performances.



If you have a model theater tip or trick you would like to share here, please email it to us, and let us know that it is alright to share it, and if you want your name, and/or email included.