Following the crash of the U.S. stock market in 1929 and the Great Depression that resulted, demand for architects and their services faded throughout the country. With no new work coming from Cram & Ferguson contracts, Roger and his wife were forced to seek out other financial avenues in order to support themselves. Roger made jewelry and furniture, and even experimented with making mead and various spirits for a time. He continued to receive favorable reviews for his paintings by local reviewers in the news, including some watercolors of the Grand Canyon, where it was also noted that he was raising “the most luxuriant mustache in the West.”
Roger and his wife then began to experiment with puppetry around 1933, resulting in the creation of the Beroju Puppet Theatre - a tri-party enterprise launched by Roger, Betty and Roger’s brother Julian Hayward. All three participated in producing the shows, which were performed for a fee at various locations in the Pasadena area, including the Annandale Golf Club, the Athenaeum of Caltech and the Haywards’ home.
Roger oversaw many different exquisitely detailed shows, but received considerable attention for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a rendition of the legend that was also popularized in Disney’s Fantasia. This work in puppetry was eventually recognized and listed in two different internationally themed puppet books by Cyril Beaumont. Though Roger’s friend and former employer Sam Lunden was unable to provide any further architectural work for him during the Depression, he did his best to support the Hayward family’s new endeavor. Perhaps Sam’s most generous act was in sending out a series of letters to various friends and associates promoting the Haywards’ show and encouraging audience attendance:
“You will be interested in the enclosed announcement of the opening of “The Beroju Puppets” under the personal direction of Roger Hayward. The puppets were designed and executed by Mr. Hayward and the acts written under his direction. Private shows have been given during the past summer, the most successful probably being that at the Athenaeum of the California Institute of Technology. I have seen several of the acts and can endorse them as being as brilliant as they are unusual and highly entertaining. The opening show is sold out, and so we suggest that you make an effort to attend on Friday, September first, or any of the following shows.”