Miniature Theatre on Display this Summer

This exhibition is no longer on display at the William H. Hannon Library – this post is maintained for historical purposes.

If you’ve been in the library at all this summer, you may have noticed the miniature theatre that is currently sitting beneath our central stairwell. Created by David Garden and José García-Moreno, this Baroque era theater model was constructed as a scale set piece for a short stop motion animated film [Vimeo] and presented during the finale of the play, “The Emperor of the Moon.” This Commedia Dell’Arte play was recently performed by LMU Theater Arts Department students at the Virginia Barnell Theater.

The tunnel beneath the theatre

Aphra Behn, the first English woman to earn her living by her writing, and who broke cultural and gender barriers, wrote this Restoration farce in 1687. Inspired by news of Galileo Galilei’s telescope invention, Behn’s play tells the story of Doctor Baliardo, who believes there is a moon-civilization and will not allow his daughter and niece to meet men because earthlings are inferior; Baliardo is preparing them to marry moon-men. The Doctor denies his daughter Elaria and his niece Bellemante to their respective lovers, Don Cinthio and Don Charmante, as being men of mere terrestrial mould. The girls are, however, secretly assisted in their amours by Scaramouch, the doctor’s man, who is himself a rival of Harlequin.

Detail of sgraffito

The theater model was constructed out of laser-cut plywood and basswood to approximately scale the timbers and other structural components to true size. Its internal mechanical systems were inspired by the Drottningholm Court, a theater located near Stockholm, Sweden, which is still in operation. The external façade of the model is a replica of the Litomyšl Castle in the Czech Republic. This castle is almost completely ornamented in sgraffito, a form of decoration made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting color, typically done in plaster or stucco on walls, or in slip on ceramics before firing. The Litomyšl castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Gears and pulleys
The machine beneath the theatre stage

Project collaborators include LMU School of Film and Television faculty, José García-Moreno and David Garden. Both were involved in model design, construction and stop motion filming. This project recently received the Kennedy Center Theater Festival meritorious animation award for a theater play.