The Suitcase of Wonders show has always been more comfortable playing in non-traditional venues, and the Arch certainly qualifies. It is located in the middle of a busy traffic circle where even just getting to it is a somewhat risky matter of darting across the circle to the island.
Even if you are aware that there is an interior, it is not entirely clear how to get inside. But not only is there an inside, the Arch was once home to the New York Puppet Library, founded by Teresa Linnihan.
"“It was a mysterious place, People never knew you could go inside.”
"You won’t find Big Bird, Mickey Mouse or SpongeBob at the New York Puppet Library. Instead there’s an extraordinary assembly of original, handmade creatures, characters and animals - from parade puppets to masks to marionettes - littering the landings and bunched along the railings of the spiral staircase leading up to the loft-like performance space atop the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Arch. It’s a climb that casts a spell of enchantment, as each corkscrew turn creates a new vista of fantasies."
Linnihan used to present a variety of performances inside the top of the Arch. One day she saw me perform at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO for the Great Small Works Seventh International Toy Theater Festival.
"We saw [Smallini] at the Toy Theater Festival, and his show was just charming."
So she booked me to perform at the Arch that summer, and I returned the following year as well.
Since the magic show is inside a miniature theater, I passed out some opera glasses for the audience to get a better look. I still keep them today for use when necessary.
I also gave out small handbills.
Unfortunately, I don't believe the Arch houses the New York Puppet Library anymore, as it was in need of some serious interior renovation.
But I will always remember performing at this most unusual location.