|GREAT SMALL WORKS creates large- and small-scale productions with community and school groups, using workshops in all kinds of popular theater traditions, most often pageantry, parades, cantastoria, circus, and toy theater. Workshops offer participants of all ages and backgrounds the ideas, theatrical forms, and artistic skills to tell their own stories.
In a 1913 pamphelet, W.E.B. Du Bois called referred to his pageant, "The Star of Ethiopia," as "a great folkplay, with a series of scenes, processions of persons in costumes of various periods, representing historic events. These scenes and actions are accompanied by music, dramatic incidents, and the grouping and massing of color. In pageant all classes and ages take part. It is a great human festival..."
GSW pageant projects may be made with community or school groups of any size.
Preparatory workshops may include puppet, mask, and banner-making; story and theme development; puppetry, movement, and stilt-dancing; and, in the final stage, rehearsal and public performance. Pageant workshops can last from 1 to 10 weeks, and always include an intensive period of work 3-5 days before the performances. Projects may include individuals, as well as artistic groups (musicians, dancers, or writers) or community groups (neighborhood, school, social, activist), and can be organized around an historic event, a political issue, an anniversary, or a theme of the community's choosing. For more information about hosting a Great Small Works event, contact us.
More images from past community events and workshops
can be found in our Archives.
In 1996, GSW created "A History of Apizza in New Haven" for the first International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut. Hundreds of school children and volunteers from New Haven's diverse communities constructed giant puppets and masks, researched local history, wrote personal recollections, learned to dance on stilts and manipulate puppets, rehearsed, and presented an outdoor circus history of the city. Performances took place on the town Green during the Festival.
Mexican puppeteers Pablo Cueto and Mireya Cueto
In January, 1998, GSW was invited by third generation Mexican puppeteer Pablo Cueto to conduct workshops in Toy Theater at the Museo de Cultures Populares in Coyoacan, Mexico City. Working with a group of theater students, photographers, theater and puppetry professionals, and cartoonists, the company divided a group of 80 participants into teams, each of whom created a new theater work over the course of one week. After showing the company's TOY THEATER OF TERROR AS USUAL, the groups met daily to write texts, design puppets, build miniature stages, and rehearse their productions. A final showing was held in the museum courtyard.
Stilters with roses in the Bread & Roses Pageant (1998)
In Spring, 1998, GSW conducted a 6-week workshop with teachers and students at the Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School in Harlem, NYC. The pageant was based on the textile workers' strike from which the school took its name. Workshops culminated in a free, outdoor performance in the park across the street from the school.
Procession to End All Evil (2001),
produced for the D.U.M.B.O. Arts Festival
Puppets designed & built by Sara Peattie
With an ever-expanding core group of volunteer performers, designers, builders, and musicians, the company has staged annual street pageants for the D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival, beginning with the "Procession to End All Evil" (2001), "The Law of the Downfall of Empires" (2002), "The Pom-Pom Tattoo" (2003), "An Answer on the Day You Call" (2005) "Do You Know the Way to San Blasé?" (2004) and "The Spectacle of the Rising Tide" (2006).
Click here for a cool little movie (by mornography) of a
DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival pageant:
"An Answer on the Day You Call" (2005)
And, as a commission for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the company created "The Rising Tide Parade" for the opening of the summer, 2006 River to River Festival. Traveling from Battery Park to City Hall and South Street Seaport, the parade told stories of great rivers, both mythic and real, and current political tensions connected by water. 90+ performers were involved, along with three marching and bicycling musical groups, giant puppets, reflective water cut-outs, and performing collaborators from Circus Amok, Chinese Theatre Works, and Sundree Productions.