The great secret of a successful Toy Theatre performance is to have all your characters ready at the side of the stage so that they can be pushed on as they are wanted. You will have to get to recognise each figure from its back view. A good method is to use wire slides or thin strips of card. You will need a separate one for every figure to save time between each scene.

Before the play begins have all the scenery arranged in the right order, and all the characters waiting in the wings; then raise the curtain, push on the correct figure, and the show has started. It is a good idea to move gently whichever figure is supposed to be speaking, with a slight shaking of the slide, as this helps the audience follow the story. You can present the whole show single-handed, altering your voice a little for each character or have someone beside you to help. You do not need more than two people actually pushing the characters on the stage, or they will get in each other’s way.

A little music will create a theatrical atmosphere. It is up to your imagination to use what is best for you. It is more fun and in keeping with the little stage to make your own music with a mouth organ, a toy xylophone or maybe a music box.

Keep the intervals between the scenes as short as possible, or the audience will get bored; and try not allow any pauses during the play. You should rehearse the whole play several times before giving a public performance, as this is the only way to be sure of having a slick and smooth ‘first night’.

It will greatly help the effect if you can screen the stage with curtains, or a large piece of cardboard, so that the audience will not see you at work behind the scenes while the play is in progress; an open doorway between two rooms will often serve very well for this purpose.

The position of the back scenes can be varied from the extreme back of the stage to near the front. The latter should be used when there is no special wings provided. In the same way, lighting is a great help to the effectiveness of your performance. You can arrange a reading lamp to illuminate the stage. Always have the audience in darkness.

In the stage directions, L. and R. stand for ‘Stage Left’ and ‘Stage Right’ respectively. That is to say, the left and right sides as they would seem to an actor standing on the stage looking towards the audience. Up and Down Stage stand for near the back and the front of the stage.

That’s about it. Take things slowly and you will produce a little masterpiece which will give you years of enjoyment.