Review: Tiny Ninja Theater
TheaterMania, 4/9/03
"There's something irresistibly charming about seeing Shakespeare's works performed by miniature plastic figurines."

Article: Small Actors Make Big Splash
Dramatics, 4/03
"As Yoda says, ‘You do or you do not; there is no try.’"

Review: Theatre Pick for Week of March 4, 3/4/03
"You think you've seen every twist on The Bard’s work humanly possible..."

Article: Fringe Hit Tiny Ninja Theater Returns to NYC
Playbill Online, 2/9/03
"Trevor Bigfoot as Mercutio — whose death scene has to be seen to be believed"

Article: Best of Charleston 2003
The Charleston City Paper, 1/03
"Readers Pick for Best Piccolo Spoleto Event"

Review: Shakespeare in a Shoebox
The Washington Post, 1/11/03
"Once you've seen its Romeo & Juliet, you'll want to come to back for figurine versions of Hamlet or Othello or whatever else." — Peter Marks

Review: Action Figure Genius
The Charleston City Paper, 10/02
"Quick, clever, and chock full of surprises, more than one audience member claimed that it even outperformed the hit interpretation of the Scottish play." — Colleen Reilly

Review: Freeze Frame
Creative Loafing Charlotte, 10/2/02
"I heartily recommend being among the lucky few when Weinstein & Co. return to Charlotte or Piccolo Spoleto." — Perry Tannenbaum
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Review: Tiny Version of Macbeth is Giant Entertainment
The Charlotte Observer, 9/22/02
"Fresh, funny, ingenious and original." — JoAnn Grose

Review: Tiny Ninja Theater
Hairline, 8/02
"Four Stars: Tiny Ninja Theater is a fantastic and unorthodox show which represents what many love about the Edinburgh Festival." — Simon Ferguson

Review: Bard Takes a Flyer
Sunday Herald, 8/25/02
"Four Stars: Shakespeare is as equally at home among the ridiculous, of course." — Tim Abrahams

Review: Tiny Ninja Theater presents Macbeth
The Scotsman, 8/19/02
"Must be seen to be believed. " — Paul Rhodes

Review: Macbeth
Three Weeks, 8/17/02
"If a definition of the Fringe is originality and artistic expression, then this 35 minute abbreviated version of Macbeth, with tiny plastic ninjas as a cast, must surely rank as an ultimate example." — Paul Cochrane

Review: Mr. Smiley Face Macbeth
The Guardian, 8/10/02
"Weinstein plays it dead straight and speaks the text rather better than some classically trained actors I have heard." — Lyn Gardner

Review: Mini-Cawdor Steals Hearts
The List, 8/8/02
"a marvel of theatrical innovation" — Catherine Bromley

Review: No Drams Required
Edinburgh Guide, 8/3/02
"This is the only one I’m recommending to all my friends and the only thing I think I’ll make a return trip to!" — Annabel Ingram

Article: Ninja-cized Bard
Charleston Post & Courier, 6/1/02

Article: Tiny Ninja Theater Returns to Charleston
The State, 5/31/02

Review: Action Figure Genius
The Charleston City Paper, 5/29/02

Review: Tiny Ninjas Take On Shakespeare's Giant Roles
Charleston Post & Courier, 5/29/02

Article: Oh Tiny Romeo
The Charleston City Paper, 5/02

Article: What's The Buzz
The Charleston City Paper, 5/02
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Article: Where to Celebrate Valentine's Day Solo
Time Out New York, 2/14/02
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Review: Massaker im Spielzeugland
Taz Bremen, 1/22/02
the babelfish translation

Article: Best of Charleston 2001
The Charleston City Paper, 1/02
"Best Use of Plastic Figurines in a Performance" jump to the good bits

Article: Shakespeare de Plástico
Revista 2K, 6/22/01
the babelfish translation

Piccolo's Prices Too Steep for Local Festival
The State, 6/10/01
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Spoleto Festival at 25
The New York Times, 6/5/01
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Tiny Ninjas Put Twist on the Bard
Charleston Post & Courier, 6/2/01

Tiny Ninjas Project Big Illusion
The Charleston City Paper, 5/29/01

Review: No Small Jokes, Just Small Actors
Charleston Post & Courier, 5/29/01

Article: Immediate Art
The Charleston City Paper, 5/01
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Article: Serious Shakespeare Takes But An Inch
The Charleston City Paper, 5/01

Review: Sightlines: Tom Waits in the Toilet
The Village Voice, 4/27/01

Article: All Is But Toys
Stage Directions, 3/01
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Article: The Bard's New Band of Merry Men Perform Macbeth
American Theater, 12/00

Article: Off-Off color: Toy Story
Time Out New York, 11/9/00
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Review: Street of Blood, Tiny Ninja Theater presents Macbeth
NEXT Magazine, 9/15/00
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Article: Is That a Ninja That I See Before Me?
Playbill Online, 8/30/00

Review: Oh, Forget the Money, Let's Dress Up and Play
The New York Times, 8/26/00
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Fringe Binge
Time Out New York, 8/24/00
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Review: Fringe Benefits
The Village Voice, 8/23/00
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Review: As The Bard Himself Might Put it..., 8/20/00

Review: Tiny Ninja Macbeth, Finally, Little Green Man, 8/18/00
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Article: Off-Off and Running
Time Out New York, 8/10/00
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village voiceIssue No. 268 November 9-16, 2000
Off-Off color: Toy story

The Fifth International Toy Theater Festival says, Let's get small.

It's not unusual for kids to give their toys names and treat them like a friend. But Dov Weinstein—the creator and star of the Fringe Festival-hit Tiny Ninja Theatre Presents Macbeth, where inch-tall plastic ninjas perform a 35 minute version of the Scottish play—takes this fantasy even further: he's friend, director and career advisor. "I created Macbeth because tiny plastic ninjas had a lack of opportunity to perform classical theater. It was my dream to fill that void!" The unassuming, honey-voiced eccentric with a philosophy degree from Brown University certainly succeeded there. After winning the Fringe's Award for Overall Excellence and Innovation, the popular show (which can be seen by only an audience of 15), has been beguiling houses five times a week at The Present Company Theatorium since July.

The organizers of The Fifth International Toy Festival hope that Weinstein's success will raise the profile of their series running through November 19 at HERE.

A small (in both senses of the word) subset of puppetry, toy theater not only describes shows produced with dime store action figures, but also harks back to the Victorian tradition of re-enacting popular shows with cut-out figures on mini proscenium stages for the entertainment of children. The idea was so popular that London once had a Toy Theater lending library.

HERE's biennial festival features a rotating roster of eclectic acts, that includes prominent European practitioners as well as innovators from Latin America. The first weekend features Dick Reimer's Grimm's fairy tale, Seven in one Blow, performed on a stage modeled after the intricately-designed Danish Royal Theater, and Frank and Joan Gardner's 1969 film, The Robot, animated with vintage metal toys from the '50s and '60s. Other highlights include Laura Heit's matchbox shows, presented on actual matchboxes enlarged via video projection; Holland's Frits Grimmelikhuizen's colored paper and light show based on Kandinsky's paintings; and a Brazilian peep show performed for only two people at a time.

Weinstein also makes his much-anticipated follow-up to Macbeth with A Brief History of DUMBO. This playful love letter to Weinstein's neighborhoodbegins with the Big Bang, proceeds through Walt Whitman's ecstatic meanderings and the construction of the Manhattan Bridge, and finally ends with Mr. Weinstein's arrival in this growing community of artists. This material provides Weinstein's company of ninja performers an opportunity to show their range; apparently, even plastic action-figures don't want to be type-cast.

Trudi Cohen and John Bell, two of the main producers of this year's Toy Theater Festival and founders of the New York City-based puppet company Great Small Works, say they were drawn to the form because they could employ dynamic stagecraft like trap doors, explosions and complex rigging, while keeping their costs on a shoestring. Their six member company performs Episode 10 of its ripped-from-the headlines puppet series, Terror as Usual, during the festival's second and third weekend.

Reflecting on her craft Ms. Cohen muses, "When I watch puppet theater I'm so much more persuaded by it [than by human theater]. It's very compelling when you do things really small and say, 'Come here, look into this tiny, little box. There's something I want to tell you.'" She also adds, "Great actors are wonderful to watch, but there are only a few of them, while there are so many great puppets."—Eric Stoneberg

© 2000 Time Out New York

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