What is a Penny Theater?

I was working in our Shirlington showroom a few months ago when I received a rather odd phone call.  One of our previous customers was entering to win a grant from the American Physical Society.  This was not a typical type of phone call.

He was entering the grant with the help of his family to win money to build a new, improved Penny Theater for the Noyes Children’s Library Foundation and was hoping we would help.  I told him I was interested but I did not have a clue what a Penny Theater was… do you?

Long story short the Noyes Children’s Library Foundation and this wonderful family use the Penny Theater to teach children all kinds of lessons.  The theater is small enough to be carried from one place to another yet large enough to host a whole play on it using small caricatures.

I and the rest of Hardwood Artisans believe education very important.  If you are learning the mathematics of building hardwood furniture, why the sky is blue or the technique of social marketing it is important to keep on learning.  I knew Hardwood Artisans had to help with this great project.  I knew we could build an enhanced, updated an perfect Penny Theater.  Here is what an older one looks like:

I received an excited email from Jan a few weeks later that stated:

“Great news! The Noyes Children’s Library Foundation got the grant! In fact, the American Physical Society likes the project so much that they told us it was the very first one they picked out of a very competitive field…”

Even better she told me:

“…We have also now obtained the permissions for use we need from HarperCollins Children’s Books, and from Mary Chapin Carpenter, who composed and sings the music that is the soundtrack for our project, Halley Came to Jackson. Also, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s personal agent told us that Ms. Carpenter is happy and excited about this project and is ”glad to be part of it.” Pretty neat!”

That is really neat!

So we scheduled a meeting and the family brought in what we needed to build to educate and inspire youth.

The doors on the side of the theater fold in to make a box that can be rather easily carried.  There is a special piece in the front that has lights on it to light up the stage.

This is a side view of the theater.  The actors are on rods and held behind the theater’s doors.  The theater can be worked by two people – one on each side.  The small space in the front of the theater is for the curtain to run along.

The theater lights up thanks to a very nice electrical box in the back of it and these Christmas lights.  The rods can easily be moved depending on the desired lighting affect.  Each strand of lights can be controlled individually.

Here is the Family that is making all of this happen and Greg.  Stay tuned to see how the new design looks at hopefully we will be able to capture a video of the new theater in action.

Thanks for reading,

Julianne Yurek




The Quince Orchard library folks have now agreed to help us with our project so we want them to have the same theater and technology.  The Noyes Foundation will be paying for the Quince Orchard theater, if you can make that third one. They don’t have any money at all.

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