crate design

Crate Puppet Theatre first trials
Image: Barry Ramage - Early working model for the crate theatre

The Crate Theatre came about via many influences, the greatest being an alternative use for an iconic everyday object, the milk crate.

In the UK for example, the milk crate is used in a different way to that of Australia. A milk float carries pint milk bottles in crates for delivery to the door while collecting empties for cleaning and refilling. The crates have dividers to keep the glass bottles separated from each other, pretty much restricting use for carrying much else. The Australian crate however, sturdy crate with a multitude of uses!

Design Brief:

  • Milk crates come in various colours (see foot note), the size is standardised. At around 31 cm cubed internal, the Theatre is on the scale of Paper Theatre, which in turn puts the characters at 6 to 10 cm high. Each component of the Theatre is to be reusable in some way depending on the show currently playing...
  • Theatre environment (Crate Yard): Portable, can show pretty much anywhere...
  • Shade and blackout: Need to maintain as close to blackout as possible within the Theatre. If showing in an inside air-con environment, simple black cloaks can be used. Outside in tropical Darwin however, peepholes and masking. Shady spot under a tree!
  • Audience: One! seated. Headphones for sound. viewing comfort, shows run for a duration of around 2 minutes
  • Puppeteer: One (standing? depends on type of puppet).
  • Set: Able to "Bump-in and out" quickly. Standard fixings and rigging.
  • ergonomics: Based on the needs of Puppeteer.
  • Appearance: Keep Milk Crate appearance.
  • Technical: Power, light and sound.

In time, I will cover some of these topics on the site. Any questions can be asked using the contact form.


paper theatre scale in the crate puppet theatre
Image: Barry Ramage - paper theatre scale in the crate puppet theatre
original puppet theatre light sources replaced with a refined pixel version
Image: Barry Ramage - original puppet theatre light sources replaced with a refined pixel version



foot note: crate colours representing company identities (crates remain company property). Mine came via the tip shop, though are found all over the place!