A celebration to mark the publication of The Story of the Webb Family, noted publishers of the
Toy Theatre and portraits prints for four generations by Laurie Webb, 5th generation.
The Webb Toy Theatre Festival 2005 was a positive cornucopia of delight. Eight performances that transported the audience into the early Victorian era and the world of W G Webb.
The visually stunning theatres, half of which were of Webb's design, told of the hundreds of hours of dedication given over to their creation.
All performances were based on original Webb productions including the scripts, characters and scenes, with some being seen for the first time in public performance for more than a century.
This was a unique production in Robert Poulter's inimitable modern style. It was produced entirely in Penny Plain format with only the explosive scenes given a splash of colour.
(Photo to follow)
A visual delight, with the characters brought to life in Barry's creative hands. This was a live performance of pure magic that totally absorbed the audience.
How he made 2 dimensional characters perform ballet was quite beyond me, but he achieved it with finesse.
(Robin Cherry’s Mars Theatre by Webb)
A play full of special effects, with a quality soundtrack.
The ship actually looked as though it was ablaze, and the lightning flashed and thunder
clapped just as if the storm was in the room soaking us to the skin.
(Robin Cherry’s “Union Jack” by Webb))
Peter Baldwin - The Battle of Alma and the Battles of Balaclava & Inkerman.
The maestro gave his usual polished performance on his stunning scratch built representation of Astley's Amphitheatre.
Everyone gasped in awe as Peter made characters turn on the spot in the ring.
The special correspondent, brought to life by Peter, gave an excellent insight into the Crimean campaign.
Ted's Apollo Theatre was an exhibition piece of three-dimensional excellence.
The precision of modelling of the theatre and the characters & scenes was matched by a superb family performance,
with Ted's wife and granddaughter participating in the soundtrack and the performance.
(Brian Green’s Fourpenny Webb Theatre)
Performed on another of Ted Hawkin's splendid theatres, Brian performed this old classic live.
The magpie had been cleverly scaled up so the audience could clearly see what the thieving bird was up to.
Peter & Sylvia Peasgood - Harlequin Jack & the Beanstalk.
The Peasgood’s Theatre, based on Green’s Regency Theatre
The Peasgood's gave their all in this extraordinary performance, with much laughter from the appreciative audience.
The Harlequinade, rarely performed in modern times, was incomprehensible but such fun to watch (I think it is meant to be beyond the comprehension of the ordinary man).
Some of the trick scenes and characters were a joy to watch and brought much applause from the crowd.
This was the highlight to me of the whole weekend.
Not just because of the dramatic and energetic performance given by Joe and the live musical accompaniment by Helen Porter,
but also because all the characters were actually JK Green's work, purchased by Webb upon Green's death in 1860.
The procession including elephants and camels was sublime.
(Joe Gladwin’s Large Redington Theatre)
The burlesque of The Miller and His Men, written by Horatio Blood especially for the event.
All the performers came together and were joined by Horatio Blood, Catherine Hail, Laurie Webb and young Zachary Webb,
with musical accompaniment by Mr Oliver Davies on the piano. Even the audience were roped in to give added volume to the songs,
although we did take a little time to get the chorus lines right. It was such fun.
The final act of such a wonderful weekend came with Laurie Webb's talk on the history of his family with particular attention to dispelling a few longstanding beliefs held by the toy theatre fraternity.
The most notable was the fact that Benjamin Pollock and the Webb's were not really archenemies, to the extent that they even helped each other out when certain stocks ran low.
This was such a fantastic event, that it should become an annual event.
Not necessarily at Broadstairs, but at a different venue each year.
Moreover this year’s event has become such a catalyst for me that I must do my utmost to make things happen.
(Curators; Horatio Blood, David Powell and Barry Clarke)
This was a splendid exhibition, displaying the quality of WG Webb's work. Included were many of Webb's theatres depicting many famous scenes throughout toy theatre history. Also included were many of Webb's theatrical portraits and a collection of Webb's title sheets for most of his plays. The highlight for me was a halfpenny theatre, originally created by JK Green in 1834 and acquired by Webb in 1860, here beautifully reproduced by Horatio Blood.
The exhibition continues in Finsbury after a short run at Broadstairs. For more details click here.
To accompany both exhibitions David Powell has produced another masterpiece in the form of the WG Webb Exhibition Catalogue.