These are simple screen stages. The puppeteer kneels (or stands if he/she's a little person) or sits behind the screen and the puppets use the top of the screen as their "floor." Simple to build, easy to take apart and store in a bag, and useful for multiple applications. The one above is a floor model...
....and this one if for tabletop or floor. We have one more, even smaller stage in progress, which will also be for tabletop use. Or for little people on the floor. The curtains need to be hemmed so they're not hanging on the frames properly yet.
The stages will help these guys get out of the closet!
One of the library programs I am offering this summer is Create a Story, Create a Puppet. First we'll tell a story or two with puppets; then using my puppets and the screen stages, children can make up a story to act out. They can use a folktale too, of course. The idea is imaginative play. The second part of the program is making wooden spoon puppets or finger puppets to take home and let the fun continue.
I have a lot of puppets--probably 50 or more, not counting the finger puppets, and I am always looking for more because I find that puppets and storytelling are a natural fit with children. The puppets touch that part of a child's brain that allows the imagination free rein. The story touches their mental imaging abilities and language development. Combine the two and it's dynamite.
Another reason for the screen stages is a grant program I am working on with my local library. The library wants to develop a teen puppetry troupe; I ran one for 7 years at my branch library and it is still in existence today, 12 years after its start. I will be offering 4 workshops for the teens, teaching them manipulation of glove puppets, puppet characterization and voice, and script/story selection and development. After the four workshops, they will be on their own with the very capable library staffer who will be in charge of the program.
Part of the grant covers the purchase a a starter collection of puppets and a stage. My screen stages can be used for practice until the big stage arrives.
Next step for me is to get all the curtains sewed--a hand project since I gave away my sewing machine. With only straight hems to sew it should not be too difficult. I also have get the manual ready for the teens--it's mostly complete, only needing to be revised from storytelling with puppets to using puppets on stage. The basis of voice, manipulation, characterization are the same. I also have a collection of short, easy puppet scripts I wrote for my library, and some of them will be included in the manual.
So that's what the plumbing and fabric is for! You had some very creative ideas, and some of them very close to the truth.