The Paper Bag Players

185 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002


About Us

The Paper Bag Players is a company of adults who create and perform original, contemporary, musical theater for children ages 4 through 9.

Their shows, based on a child's everyday experiences, combine short plays, rousing songs, freewheeling dances, audience participation, mime, and painting and drawing on stage. Common household objects, cardboard boxes and brown kraft paper brightened with splashes of poster paint and crayon become their sets, props and costumes.

Founded in 1958, by Judith Martin, Shirley Kaplin, Sudie Bond and Remy Charlip, creativity was shared during the first years.  As the company developed, however, Judith Martin more and more shaped The Paper Bag Players identity.  As writer, designer, director and actress Judith both established and embodied The Paper Bag Players style.

In 1966 Donald Ashwander joined the company as composer and performer.  Donald introduced the electric harpsichord, composed lively ragtime music and played it joyfully at every show. He gave The Paper Bag Players their musical personality.

Judith Martin, Artistic Director for five decades created and performed in over 35 shows, including such favorites as Hot Feet, I Won’t Tale A Bath, Dandelion, and When My Cousin Slept Over.  In her fifty years, Judith worked with many theater artists writing, designing and choreographing for The Paper Bag Players including Irving Burton, Betty Osgood, Doug Norwich, Jeanne Michels, James Lally, Jan Maxwell and Brenda Cummings; scenic artists Molly O’Gorman Allison Campbell, Diane Brawarsky and playwright, Jennifer Wells.

In June 2009, Ted Brackett  became the Artistic Director of The Paper Bag Players. Having worked closely with Judith Martin  for 23 years as a performer then as Associate Director.  John Stone, resident composer since 2005, joins him as Music Director.  John continues in Ashwander’s footsteps enriching the shows with many of his own compositions. (Donald Ashwander died in 1994.)

This year's show, "The Paper Bag Players Whoop-Dee-Doo" is brand new--new stories, new jokes, new songs, new dances, new paper bag props and costumes, new audience participation! Ted and John along with Players, Laura Canty-Samuel, Amy Walsh, and Kevin Richard Woodall, created it together. They will all return this year to bring this surprising new show to thrilling theatrical life! Jim Huggans is once again Production Manager and Jon Peck, scenic artist.

The Paper Bag Players touring has taken them to 37 states and to Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, Israel, Iran, Egypt, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan.  This year’s show will be seen by over 70,000 children in performances for the general public and for school children at  43 locations.

The first theater for children to perform at Lincoln Center and to receive a grant from the NEA, The Paper Bag Players the have been recognized with an OBIE, three awards for excellence from the American Association for Theater and Education, three American Theater Wing Awards, the New York State Artists Award, The Broadway Theater Institute Award for Theater and Education, and the Children’s Theater Foundation Medallion.  Nick Jr. Magazine honored Judith Martin with a Playful People Award.

The New York City Public Library for the Performing Arts explored The Paper Bag Players 5 decades in an exhibition in 2008, “The Paper Bag Players: 50 Years of Theater Art.”  The exhibition marked the agreement between The Paper Bag Players and The New York City Public Library to house “the Bags” archives.

The Paper Bag Players is supported by public, corporate and private contributions.

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