Bookmaking: Theater Books


posted by Beret.

A few weeks ago, I cleaned out a closet and discovered the instructions for making theater books. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked unsuccessfully for that sheet of paper over the years, but many. 

I promptly re-lost the paper.

Today–miraculously!–I’m holding it again in my grubby fist, so I will post these instructions posthaste in hopes that, in the future, I might relocate them at will. Hopefully, you will also be inspired to try this at school or at home with a child/glass of wine/tolerant spouse.

 What you need:


  • A piece of 8 1/2 x 11″ paper.
  • A pair of scissors.

Think you can handle that?


1. Fold paper in half once the hamburger way (i.e., to get a wider shape, rather than a long, skinny “hot dog” shape.


2. Fold one side back to meet the fold.

flap 1

3. Flip the paper and fold the other side back to meet the fold.

flap 2

M shape

4. Now, open up the sheet and fold in half once the hot dog way. You should now have 8 equal-sized rectangles.

hot dog 1

5. Re-fold once the hamburger way, so you are looking at two of your rectangles. Keep the fold at the top.


6. Make two cuts from the center fold: a slight curve for the top of the stage, and a straight one for the floor of it. Do NOT cut all of the way to the middle fold.

cut 1

7. Fold this stage flap up and use a scissors to cut the stage “curtains” in half.

final cut

8. Fold the curtains open–two to the left, two to the right.

open curtains

9. Tuck one end into the other to form the back of the stage. I show this step on the yellow paper. As you can see, I illustrated the reverse side of one of the flaps to be the set for the stage. You could illustrate both, and then you could change scenery for act II!

author-title 1


fold in

Use the flaps of the stage “curtains” as pages on which to write. You can also write on the reverse of the backdrop, and/or open the entire sheet and write inside. Artistically inclined could decorate around the the stage opening.


Possible applications: 

You could write an extremely brief play on the curtain pages.

You could use this as a report format–especially good for reporting on a play or film. Illustrate the action, climax, or main theme on the stage.

You could put on the world’s tiniest puppet show. Just dangle tiny characters from thread, or attach them to popsicle sticks and move them from above the stage. Or, draw a face on a finger or two and put on a show.


Many thanks to C.J. Grossman–check out her book art; she’s incredible–and the wonderful San Francisco Center for the Book for teaching me how to make these and many other fabulous books.

Author: Beret Olsen

Beret Olsen is a writer, teacher, and photo editor for 100 Word Story. She loves toast, the Oxford comma, and all your comments and questions.

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