Calendar of Events


Feb 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm

16th Annual Paper Theatre Festival: Finale!


Paper theatre: it’s the smallest show on Earth!

This scale-model Victorian Era educational toy is being re-discovered and celebrated at a free weekend-long festival and exhibition in the Seuss Room of Geisel Library at UC San Diego, culminating in a special finale performance at noon on Monday, February 12.

Paper theatre, also called table top theatre or toy theatre, originated in London in the 1800’s. Families constructed these theatres from poster kits with scripts, scenery sheets and paper doll actors included.

Festival dates: Saturday, February 10 from noon to 5 pm (impromptu performances throughout the day)

Sunday, February 11 from noon to 5 pm (impromptu performances throughout the day)

and Monday, February 12 from 9:00am to 1:30pm (formal performance at noon on Monday)

This three-day exhibit at the UC San Diego Library features vintage items and replicas 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 theater. 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: (858)
822-5758 or

Event Website

Date and Time

Feb 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm


Seuss Room, Geisel Library

Event Registration

Registration is not required for this event.

Event Fee



Scott Paulson    858-822-5758


Faculty, Staff, Students, The General Public

Event Host

UC San Diego Library

Event Category

Concerts, Performances and Exhibitions