WHO ARE WE?
It was decided to found the College (a term chosen as the appropriate collective description for a gathering of 'Professors') at a meeting in the Punch Tavern in Fleet St. on Oct 7th. 1985. It was formally launched on Dec 18th. with an announcement in The Times "wishing His Impudence Mr. Punch a continuation of the popularity he has hitherto enjoyed throughout the reign of sixteen monarchs".
The College crest, adapted from the design for the Joker found in an old pack of playing cards, has been variously interpreted as Mr. Punch with the world at his feet, or as Mr. Punch giving the world a kick in the seat of its pants. The choice is in the eye of the beholder.
College members, an avowedly small 'ginger group' in the world of Punch and Judy, are all leading practitioners of the traditional show and have organised, and performed at, numerous festivals locally, nationally and internationally. The College has a particularly robust attitude towards upholding the reputation of Mr. Punch as an imp of mischief whose role in society is occasionally misunderstood by humourless self-elected guardians of public morality. It argues Mr. Punch's case with vigour.
In pursuit of its aims the College has initiated a number of activities in celebration of Mr. Punch. These include the publication of 'Mr. Punch's Progress': a tribute to the star of the show, and the instigation of the searches to find and encourage 'The Most Promising Young Prof.'
In 1987 the College contributed greatly to the 325 Celebrations in Covent Garden marking the 25th anniversary of the unveiling of the plaque there in Punch's honour. Originally unveiled in 1962 the plaque celebrated the 300th anniversary of the first sighting in the UK (as recorded in the diary of Samuel Pepys) of the Italian puppet show from which Punchinello (later Mr. Punch) emerged.
The College also made an award to Prof David Wilde of York for his work in bringing to public attention the 17th C. 'York token' which helped to solve the riddle of the size of Punch's nose in that era. (It was big! No conclusive visual evidence was available before the existence of this token was discovered)
The five Founding Articles of the College are:
Article 1. The College has been founded as a professional association to promote and encourage the highest standards in the performance and presentation of traditional Punch and Judy without opposing anyone's inalienable right to put their hand up Mr. Punch for pleasure, profit - or both!
Article 2. Membership of the College is by invitation only. Election to the College is intended as a mark of the professional esteem in which a Professor is held by his, or her, College colleagues.
Article 3. The College considers that Mr. Punch should speak with his authentic voice and that the use of the "unknown tongue" is what distinguishes a 'Punch and Judy Show' from a glove puppet play featuring Mr. Punch.
Article 4. In carrying out these, and any subsequent, Articles the College shall act as the Professors shall from time to time decide. All College business must be transacted with due regard for Mr. Punch's irreverent and mischievous nature.
Article 5. Concerning the question of Mr. Punch's morality the College subscribes to the view of Charles Dickens that the Punch and Judy Show is "an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any course of action , or as a model for any kind of conduct". The College directs persons persistently critical of Mr. Punch's behaviour to debate the matter further with Mr. Dickens himself.
Enquiries may be directed to the College Co-Ordinator: The current holder of the post is Glyn Edwards, Punch's Oak, Cleobury Rd., Far Forest, Worcestershire, DY14 9EB
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