What are the types of booths and fit-ups?


There are many types of booths and they are all devised for different needs, so none can be said to be better than the others. It all depends.
If you are working outside in a semi permanent location then weight isn't a problem and you need a strong structure. Such booths are built of plywood panels, a sort of sectional garden shed. If your work is always inside, and you have a car, then a fit-up of folding cloth covered panels is in order. These panels are around 3 foot square so a car is needed for transport, but such booths are very speedy to erect. They are not much use outside since their cloth covered panels cannot be slung in the dryer after being caught in a downpour.
If you are working outside you need something that can be secured by weights or tent pegs against the wind - a major enemy of punchmen.
A trellis booth, what most of us call lazy tongs construction is an ingenious folding trellis arrangement first applied to a Punch booth by the late George Blake of Leeds. There are very many variations, streamlined designs, versions in aluminium and wood, different folding methods etc. Such booths were the vogue when most people travelled by public transport and these booths can be folded small enough to fit in a bag designed for golf clubs. Prof. Geoff Felix has a compact arrangement based on such a design, and he travels throughout London and beyond by train, bus, tube and taxi-cab. This type of booth has a removeable cover which is easier to dry if it does get wet. Also if on grass or sand this type of booth can be secured by guy ropes and tent pegs. But being lightweight it is often difficult to secure when working on a hard surface. Then there are table top booths, walk around booths, suitcase booths - in fact a great deal of ingenuity goes into constantly trying to design the perfect booth. If you get John Alexander's wonderful book entirely on Punch frames - "The Expanded Frame File" you will learn about a great many of the various designs. Then there is another design suggested in Glyn Edward's book "Successful Punch and Judy", lazy tongs plans can be found in Edwin Hooper's "Hello Mr Punch" and if you can find a copy of Eric Sharp's "Specialised Punch and Judy Entertainment" you will find excellent plans for his wonderful panel quick erect booths, and for a very practical outdoor booth for the car owner. (Try www.puppetbooks.co.uk or www.maskandpuppetbooks.co.uk) If you want to buy a booth expect to pay at least 600 (this is being written in 2006) - probably more if you want a decent cover or an well painted proscenium. People who I know offer such work are Prof Mark Poulton, Prof Bryan Clarke, Prof John Styles, Prof Brian Davey. And keep watching ebay - second hand ones do occasionally come up for sale, in which case you might be lucky and get one for around 200. But would it be the right height for you? They are not always easy to alter. Then there is the whole different topic as to whether you want to work hands in front of face, or hands above head. It is all a pretty complex topic and nobody can tell you what is best for you.

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