Around the World With Mr. Punch
Vol. 8 No. 2           March 2005
Page 2



In the Workshop
TED BERESFORD created the trick puppets for Punch and Judy Episode 2: Attack of the Clowns. Here are a couple of those that were called for. The triple devil recreates a long-lost routine from a Bavarian Kasper show once seen by Eric, Count Stenbock. After attempting to defeat the devil with a frying pan and the help of the audience, Kasper seizes the devils own pitchfork. Using this three-pronged fork backfires on Kasper, however, as it results in the creation of three devils in place of one. It was too good a piece of visual business to stay lost – so nearly a century and a quarter after Stenbock first saw it, Ted attempted to replicate the effect. For reasons of production design this particular Devil needed to have the ‘Mephisto’ look once favoured by a certain kind of magician. The puppet also needed to be workable with one hand.

As you can see from the pictures there are two hidden heads which spring up either side of the original head when a catch is released by the operator’s thumb. The swirling cloak-like costume masked this mechanism from the audience when the first Devil was being operated. The Devil’s arm and fist were attached to the puppet in such a way that the pitchfork appeared to be held – but was actually designed to make it possible for the Kasper puppet to take it away from the Devil with ease.

It would have been simpler to have conceived this as a two-puppeteer routine but we were interested in seeing if it could be done within normal Punch and Judy solo constraints.

[Devil 1] [Devil 2] [Devil 3]
The Twins routine, however, was intended to capitalise on two pairs of hands being available. The permutations were that much greater, and the opportunity for bits of business greatly extended. We settled on one puppeteer operating Punch and one baby (in this instance a Exorcist-style possessed baby with extending neck, rotating head and ability to vomit). That left the second puppeteer with two pairs of twins to operate. The workshop brief to Ted was that the twins should be able to start fighting each other when Punch’s back was turned and spring to innocent attention when he started turning round again. By the time Punch had to separate two intermittently fighting pairs of twins – with eventually all four fighting each other – there was plenty of room for ‘biz’.

Ted positioned each twin on the end of a carefully designed V-shaped ‘squeeze’ control. Squeezing this control caused the twins to turn inwards to eyeball each other. When done at speed, free-swinging arms gave the additional appearance of the kiddies furiously walloping each other. Letting go of the squeeze mechanism caused the babies spring back to face the front in unison. When all four babies did this together the effect was more than twice that of a single pair doing it! [Punch icon]
[Twins1]




Editorials

FROM THE U.K.

THIS is one of those editions which manages to look backwards, forwards, sideways and overseas and is exceptionally representative of the perennial appeal that Mr. Punch has for all manner of people. The letters page alone is a wonderful journey down the hidden byways of Punch footnotes. I hope readers will excuse a number of articles by your Editor that arise from his and Martin Bridle’s ‘21st Century Punch and Judy for adults’ project. This is not (I hope!) prompted by vanity but out of sheer interest in sharing with you some of the fascinating things that came to light during our researches. Of similar interest, too, is Dan Bishop’s presentation of the case in favour of incorporating the national host language when performing Punch overseas. Everyone is invited to this debate and to any others you feel like starting. Where else can Punch enthusiasts let their hair down for some shop talk that other puppet journals would find too obsessively ‘anorakish’? (possible American translation for this is ‘wonkish’ I believe.) And what about Punch in the USA and UK during WW2? More extracts from that archive source will follow in the next Journal. The review of Fred Greenspan’s re-working of Punch shows that he is continuing a long tradition of fitting Mr. Punch to American circumstances. We look forward to receiving readers contributions too. There are no restrictions on what’s appropriate – other than it being Punch related. Everything from the trivial to the esoteric has a place in the Journal. Meanwhile it is time to wish everyone well for 2005 and to hope that you may all enjoy the fun and laughter of which Mr. Punch is a constant source

~ Glyn Edwards, Worcestershire

FROM THE U.S.A.

MR. Punch is keeping up. Not one to rest upon his 300+ years of laurels, Old Red Nose is trying out new venues for mischief in the 21st century. He seems to find them to his liking, and we, his fans and servants, are the lucky beneficiaries of his experiments. Recently one could attend Glyn Edwards' and Martin Bridle's mainstage Punch production for grownups. Today we can watch the slapstick ballet of Santa Claus' Punch and Judy on an online blog. Soon radio listeners will hear a BBC play of a comic book novel built around Punch and Judy.

As marvelous as these new formats are, there's still nothing like a good old, live, in your face Punch show. And there's no better way to learn about Punch than face to face with a master Punchman. Next summer, puppeteers in the United States will have a rare chance to do both of those things. Our own Professor Glyn Edwards will both perform and teach at Puppet Fest 2005, the national festival of the Puppeteers of America. Mary Edwards, Glyn's wife and champion carver/Punch-maker, will also be there to lend a hand. Co-Workshop Directors, Shari Aronson and Chris Griffith (himself a fine Punch performer and a member of the Worldwide Friends of Punch and Judy) will keep Glyn very busy during the festival week of July 24-30, 2005. Professor Edwards will present a series of workshops in the finer points of practical Punchology: First Steps in Punch and Judy, All Comers Swazzle Clinic, and a several-session master Class.

This is a golden opportunity to learn the mechanics of Punch performance from an expert! How did it happen? Mea culpa! Yes, in my other life I'm the Artistic Director of Puppet Fest 2005. I have it on good authority that this is the not-be-missed event of the U.S. puppetry year. A lttle red-nosed imp told me so.

~ Diane Rains, Minnesota






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