From Shakespeare to Sidmouth, theatre fanatic creates his own model stage

PUBLISHED: 08:31 25 December 2018

Jon Griffiths with his model theatre. Picture: Sam Cooper

Jon Griffiths with his model theatre. Picture: Sam Cooper

Archant

A labour of love has seen a retired theatre manager spend more than a year creating his own miniature stage.

The stage is accompanied by boxes and an orchestra pit. Picture: Sam CooperThe stage is accompanied by boxes and an orchestra pit. Picture: Sam Cooper

When Jon Griffiths and his wife Judith retired to Sidmouth last year, it gave him the perfect opportunity to dive head first into his crafting passion.

The couple moved to the area from Brighton where Jon worked as a front of house theatre manager and it was during this time that he developed a love for not only the plays but inparticular the buildings that housed them.

He said: “Rather than the plays and the films in the building, I’ve always been interested in the actually buildings themselves.”

Jon’s passion for theatre architecture combined with his childhood spent constructing models meant it was an easy choice for what his first retirement project would be. He said: “I was a most unusual child, I used to build theatres with Lego. When I was child I was always messing about building.

Some of the models acting a scene. Picture: Sam CooperSome of the models acting a scene. Picture: Sam Cooper

“I’ve always built models, cardboardy type things, but never anything this intricate. I thought now I have the time, that’s the reason.”

In the run-up to his retirement, Jon began crafting his own model theatre. Starting from the stage and working his way back, a year’s work means his creation is now complete.

The functional theatre has lights, curtains and even backdrops that can be lowered via a complex system of pulleys. Beyond the stage there are boxes for esteemed guests and an orchestra pit to house the band.

The majority of the items have been sourced from charity shops with only a few pieces such as the figurines coming from doll houses. Jon says he has developed an eye for finding hidden gems and many of his decorations come from unusual sources.

The stage also has a fire safety curtain to give it that authentic feel. Picture: Sam CooperThe stage also has a fire safety curtain to give it that authentic feel. Picture: Sam Cooper

This was the hardest challenge Jon had undertaken but he found it to be soothing rather than stressing work.

He explained: “It’s a really relaxing hobby. You can get a little wound up. ‘Oh I’ve been here three hours have I?’ It is very soothing.”

During the year long build, Jon also worked on a 1930s style cinema which involved handcrafting 52 identical seats.

Happy with his creations, the craftsman is not keen to stop just yet and belives that with the ability to create different sets, the project can go on and on, “You have to have a plan. I just build from that in my head.”

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