Paper theaters open to audiences in La Jolla!

Dozens of theaters have recently opened in La Jolla. Audiences have been gathering to view some of the most unusual theatre productions ever conceived. And it’s free!

Yes, dozens of small paper theaters have been carefully folded open in the Wisteria Cottage Gallery of the La Jolla Historical Society. The exhibition is titled The Smallest Show on Earth: Paper Theaters Explored.

Those who are interested in art, theatre, Victorian Era London (where toy theaters originated) or collectibles will be intrigued by this important collection.

Popular in the 19th century, paper theater kits were sold at the concession stand of an opera house, playhouse, or vaudeville theater. The kits included tabletop theaters that one could easily assemble, plus paper doll players and scripts. Tiny dramas could be played out at home. Better yet, original productions could be imagined and performed!

These paper theaters might seem a quaint reminder of a simpler time, a time when there was no television, no radio and no internet. For home entertainment, people had to rely on their own intelligence, creativity and imagination.

This cool exhibition includes many paper theaters from that era long past and the posters that promoted them. You’ll also see new, contemporary creations that were inspired by this very unique do-it-yourself art form!

The Smallest Show on Earth: Paper Theaters Explored continues through January 22, 2023.

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The Gingerbread Man runs in Chula Vista!

The Gingerbread Man emerged from a hot oven and arrived in Chula Vista today, thinking he could easily outrun families and kids attending Arts in the Park. But, alas, the famous little cookie met his fate.

The story of The Gingerbread Man was acted out, to the delight of the audience, in a very small wooden theater.

It was a fun demonstration of Kamishibai, a form of outdoor story telling that was popular in Japan during the first half of the 20th century.

The Kamishibai version of The Gingerbread Man was presented by Write Out Loud, who brought their live reading performances to the annual Arts in the Park event, held at Memorial Park in Chula Vista.

Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man!

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William Shatner to join Michael Jackson, R2-D2 and C-3PO!

Next Thursday, July 21, 2022, William Shatner will produce handprints during San Diego Comic-Con. And these impressions by an iconic Hollywood star will join those of many others, including the likes of Michael Jackson, R2-D2 and C-3PO!

I stepped into the Theatre Box movie theater in the Gaslamp Quarter today and saw many of the handprints that already decorate the floor. I was told some of the handprints were produced in and imported from Hollywood. But those of William Shatner will be freshly made in San Diego!

Tickets are available here to watch the handprint ceremony, and for an autograph session with the legendary Captain Kirk, plus a performance, and an afterparty!

Oh, look. Here come the now infamous hands of Will Smith…

If you’d like to view my coverage of Comic-Con so far, which includes hundreds of cool photographs, click here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A major Hollywood star’s connection to the Gaslamp.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Moby Dick. The Omen. Cape Fear. Roman Holiday. Twelve O’Clock High. The Boys from Brazil. The Guns of Navarone. Spellbound. The Yearling. Gentleman’s Agreement. On the Beach. The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

Gregory Peck was one of Hollywood’s very biggest stars.

In 1962 he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. During his film career, he received five Best Actor nominations.

Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla. He attended San Diego High School and San Diego State University (then called San Diego State Teacher’s College).

His father, Gregory Pearl Peck, was a chemist and pharmacist–who worked in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street.

The McGurck Block, 1887.

From 1903 to 1984, the Ferris and Ferris Drug Store occupied this building. For a long time it was San Diego’s only all-night drug store and, for a period of time, actor Gregory Peck’s father worked as the night druggist. The building was also used as a post office and as a ticket booth for the Coronado Ferry. The upper rooms of this three-story Italiante [sic] Revival building were used for rented rooms and became known as the Hotel Monroe in 1929.

Gregory Peck with his father, from Photoplay (1945). Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Drama at San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival!

Sword fights! Intrigue! Love! Betrayal!

Sounds Shakespearean?

It doth!

All of this high drama played out today in Heritage County Park, during the 2022 San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival!

Students from a variety of local schools performed scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. The event, produced by Write Out Loud and the San Diego Shakespeare Society, also included great applause!

I arrived in time to watch most of the performances and was impressed. I have no doubt many of the participants will go on to enjoy distinguished acting careers. Perhaps one day you’ll recognize some of these faces at the Old Globe or La Jolla Playhouse!

The performers represented Carlsbad High School, Mission Bay High School, Theater For Young Professionals, Bernardo Heights Middle School and Sparrow Academy. Selections from Shakespeare included As You Like It, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew, and Julius Caesar.

At the conclusion of the event, William Shakespeare himself showed up to offer his congratulations!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Giant ants interact with curious kids!

Three enormous ants interacted with excited children today in San Diego.

The strange human-size ants were first spotted carrying large bread crumbs about the green lawn of Liberty Station’s North Promenade.

The onlooking kids quickly understood the silent, methodical ants had a plan. They were carrying the crumbs and dropping them on the grass to form lines!

Lots of kids promptly assisted them!

Ants was the name of this very unique, super fun interactive outdoor performance, a part of La Jolla Playhouse’s 2022 Without Walls Festival at Liberty Station.

The three giant ants came from Polyglot Theatre in Australia!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Shakespeare: Call and Response coming to San Diego!

For a few minutes this afternoon in Balboa Park, I enjoyed watching the outdoor rehearsal of a community program coming to San Diego courtesy of the Old Globe.

Shakespeare: Call and Response, which will run from October 26 to November 14, 2021, is a three week tour of free performances with audience participation in diverse settings around the city.

What I observed was a crazy fun mixture of Shakespeare’s plays, modern romance, hip hop culture, dancing in the audience, laughter, bubbles, a Día de los Muertos altar, comedy about Halloween candy, and loads more impromptu cleverness and playful creativity!

This year’s program is part of the annual Globe For All Tour, which “brings free, live, professional productions of Shakespeare and select productions from our mainstage to diverse multigenerational audiences in the neighborhoods throughout San Diego County.”

Intrigued? Learn more here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The extraordinary TwainFest at Heritage Park!

TwainFest returned to San Diego today. And it was just as wonderful as ever!

This year the festival of mostly Victorian-era literature was held in Heritage Park, a short distance from Old Town. Families turned out to enjoy games, readings, reenactments of scenes from beloved books, puppet shows, costumed literary characters…you get the picture!

TwainFest is presented by Write Out Loud, whose mission is to inspire, challenge and entertain by reading literature aloud to audiences of all ages.

Write Out Loud offers educational programs, including performances for high school students, and they present the annual San Diego ​Student ​Shakespeare Festival in Balboa Park! Visit this website to learn more!

As I walked around Heritage Park enjoying the festival, I watched Tom Sawyer induce visitors to whitewash a fence, laughed at the craziness of a delightfully manic Mad Hatter Tea Party, lifted my eyes to giant roving Twain, Poe and Shakespeare puppets, and saw characters from Treasure Island and even some steampunk cosplay! There was action in every direction!

I finally joined other visitors to listen to The Extraordinary Mark Twain. Two actors–an older gentleman and youthful girl–painted a picture of the great American humorist and author. They employed the biography written by Twain’s daughter Susy. Her observations were published in 1988 and titled Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain.

We learned that Mark Twain had a Roman nose and kind blue eyes. And that he used strong words and had a temper. And that he was frequently absent-minded.

He was funny and philosophical and always very earnest.

And, of course, he loved a good joke.

My photos provide a small taste of today’s fun!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

People tricked by Tom Sawyer at TwainFest!

Tom Sawyer tricked several people at TwainFest today.

I was walking nonchalantly though Heritage Park near Old Town San Diego when Tom Sawyer passed by in a big hurry…

Did Tom Sawyer steal the school bell? Why the hurry? It appears Mark Twain’s beloved character is playing hooky, running through Heritage Park during TwainFest.
Uh, oh! Aunt Polly has spotted Tom and is giving chase!
Tom tries to hide behind a fence, but Aunt Polly is familiar with his antics and quickly finds him.
Aunt Polly tells that mischievous boy Tom he has a chore to do. He must whitewash the fence!
He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. –Mark Twain from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Here comes Becky Thatcher, looking for Tom.
Becky observes poor suffering Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence.
Tom explains to Becky that it isn’t every day a person gets to whitewash a fence. In fact, it’s quite a privilege.
Becky Thatcher gives Tom a whole apple for this rare opportunity to whitewash the fence!
Several visitors to TwainFest are lured into Tom Sawyer’s scheme. They happen to find small objects on the grass nearby, and offer them to Tom so that they, too, might whitewash that fence!
Tom’s basket fills with contributions.
The TwainFest visitors and Becky get to work while Tom takes another bite from his apple.
Whitewashing the fence is such fun!
Tom Sawyer lies back with his apple and enjoys the fruits of his trickery.
Here comes Aunt Polly! Uh, oh! She’s searching for Tom!
Tom Sawyer’s in big trouble…again!
Tom does his best to explain this rather unusual situation, but Aunt Polly has heard it all. She isn’t easily fooled.
Tom shouts and points his finger into the distance, causing Aunt Polly to turn in surprise. That clever Tom Sawyer takes full advantage of his distraction! Run!
Tom Sawyer makes his escape!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Scenes from La Jolla Playhouse’s POP-UP WOW!

This evening I watched a stirring performance. I and many others enjoyed the La Jolla Playhouse’s POP-UP WOW event at Liberty Station.

What did I see?

I saw soulful singing and dancing that stems from a shared history of suffering and endurance.

I saw joy that rises from the heart–a triumph of the spirit.

I saw how bubbles are like aspects of life–and like life itself. Mysterious, beautiful, soaring . . . short-lived. A beginning and an ending. Like memories.

I, too, wondered why we have an impulse to chase bubbles.

I saw a fable about a giant who wanted power over everything.

Until he saw the beauty of bubbles and learned wisdom.

I saw individuals repeatedly asking “Can I?”

They make one clumsy attempt after another, slowly gaining ability, gaining confidence, until they venture out into this sometimes scary world.

Meeting others, overcoming their fear, the question becomes “Can WE?”

What I observed was life.

You can watch it tomorrow if you’d like, too. Click here to learn about the Sunday performances. It’s free!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!