When did the black and white television end

The television of the 18th century

The effect is amazing: the viewer sits in front of a box, almost comparable to a television, and looks at a lavishly decorated, three-dimensional stage landscape on which even figures can move. But the comparison with modern technology is already exhausted.

Because next to and behind the small box are real people, the figures are moved, texts are spoken. During performances of entire operas, which is also possible with the paper theater, piano accompaniment is heard and the actors sing the arias.

The history of the paper theater began at the beginning of the 18th century and was favored by two factors. On the one hand, the emerging bourgeoisie brought with them an unbelievable enthusiasm for theater during the Romantic era, but at the same time society withdrew into its own four walls in the Biedermeier period. The fast and cheap printing process of lithography made it possible at the same time to produce the required number of printed sheets for the paper theater.

Manual work was required, the sheets had to be cut out, glued to cardboard or wood and arranged. Special arches for the backdrops and the decoration, the individual figures and the stage arches, the so-called proscenium arches, finally gave rise to the illusion of a large theater on a small scale. In the beginning it was anything but a game for children. Adults devoted themselves to drama at home, in the family. And accordingly the plays, preferably the German classical music, were not children's theater either. Among other things, Dorothea Reichelt shows in the small paper theater show by Goethe's Faust, Schiller's Robber and, very popular in the 19th century, Flotow's opera Martha.

In the 1920s, when paper theater had long since expanded into a children's game with specially written pieces, this tradition ended quite abruptly in Germany. It is different in Scandinavia, where paper theater has a continuous tradition to this day. In Denmark, for example, sheets of paper to be cut out were distributed as newspaper supplements until the 1950s.

Around 50 paper theaters are carefully packed and cataloged in the attic at Reichelts in Marktbreit. In 1998 a large theater exhibition, including performances, was shown in the museum in the Malerwinkelhaus. But the exhibitions are becoming rarer.

Paper fray is the keyword that brings Dorothea Reichelt's worry lines onto her forehead. Poor paper quality and the incompatibility of the various materials make the theater suffer. For this reason alone, a visit to the exhibition at the weekend in Obernbreit is definitely worthwhile. Because too often, Dorothea Reichelt is certain, she won't unpack her treasures anymore, they are too valuable to her.

The opening times of the
ment "The importance of paper
theater in the 19th century "im
Evangelical Nicodemus House in
Obernbreit are: Fri 6 pm to 9 pm;
Saturday 3pm to 9pm; Sun 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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