Life on a String: The Yale Puppeteers and the Turnabout Theatre Audio Tour

10. Charles Taylor, Turnabout Theatre Model, Ca. 1950s

Transcript below

color photo of model of the theatre by Charles Taylor

color photo of alternate view of model of the theatre by Charles Taylor



In the early 1970s, long after the Turnabout Theater had closed, Charles Taylor built this model of the space as part of a student assignment. You can easily spot the theater on the far end of the model, with the puppet stage on one side and the live stage on the other.


The theater had some interesting characteristics about it. It had two balconies, one as you entered. Anybody who had the private seats up here would come up either the left or the right stairway. The right stairway went over the ticket office which was in the back. The other balcony was a false balcony and those had mannequins in there.

The balconies had little doors on them and each one was called a box, like a candy box. The artwork in the building was done by Katie Cahill. And she drew the beautiful carousel horses on the front door. When I visited to make the model, I could still see the horses under the black lacquer. The paint was thick enough that you could still tell they were there.


The interior walls of the theater were painted in a soft salmon color, which beautifully offset the embroidered blue seats. The theater comfortably fit 180 people, and in its early years it was sold out for months in advance.

Life on a String Audio Tour Credits

  • Produced by the Los Angeles Public Library
  • Written by Claudia Bohn-Spector
  • Edited by Acousticguide, Inc.
  • Interviews with James Reynolds, Christina Rice, John F. Szabo, and Charles Taylor recorded at the Central Library Octavia Lab
  • Interview files edited by Sye Gutierrez, Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
  • Archival audio of Dan Bessie, Forman Brown, Harry Burnett, Odetta, Dorothy Neumann from the documentary Turnabout: The Story of the Yale Puppeteers (1993). Used courtesy of Dan Bessie.
  • Images of puppets and costume taken by Keith Kesler, Los Angeles Public Library Public Relations Department