Tradition, originality, and swiping bits

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Re: Tradition, originality, and swiping bits

Postby Richard Coombs » 11 Feb 2015, 04:16

...And if all lumped together , would that make a mickle-mass ?
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Re: Tradition, originality, and swiping bits

Postby Timboo » 18 Apr 2015, 13:16

Ok an observation from outside as a viewer.
While watching many shows at the May Fayre over the years I see bits of business that appear to be lifted from another source.
While I don't mind this at all as a viewer if it is done well, The worst thing is sitting through a show where the performer has no idea why they are doing, what they are doing and does the business like a human photocopier.
I see a routine going through the motions, hitting the marks etc "tap the stick three times here, tap tap tap, and three times over there, tap, tap, tap" but no spark of performance, It feels as if you asked the Prof why they put the bucket on the left they would answer "because that's how it is always done" There are no gear changes in the performance and nothing to surprise. Even a well worn sausage routine can surprise us if it changes its rhythm mid course.

I am not saying everything should be reworked or changed, What I am saying is understand how and why a routine has been built before you nick it and put it on display. A cold hearted copy will not entertain.

I'll get off my soapbox now.
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Re: Tradition, originality, and swiping bits

Postby Chris » 18 Apr 2015, 18:57

There are no gear changes in the performance and nothing to surprise.


I would suggest that much of your criticism comes from the fact that you are not the intended audience. The May Fayre is a peculiarity in having so many shows all showing one after the other. This is not the ideal way to watch Punch, particularly for a jaded adult.

It is quite true that a great deal of Punch show action is ritualistic, and by its nature ritual becomes a habit and the origins become obscure. But I think the ritual moves still have their value and are very much like the steps in a dance - the value is mostly in the rhythm and the order they impose.

I see a routine going through the motions, hitting the marks etc "tap the stick three times here, tap tap tap, and three times over there, tap, tap, tap" but no spark of performance


That's how you see it, while to me such ritualistic action is at the heart of Punch & Judy, something that would be anathema in any other puppet show. I imagine it as a style that has been developed over the centuries by street performers repeatedly performing the same scenas over and over, day after day, so that even the slapstick becomes disciplined.

To me its a bit like the clergyman droning away, reading the familiar archaic language of the King John bible. That is comforting. What I hate is when one of them tries to inject meaning by applying histrionics.

I also think of those tap tap tap, clap clap clap Punch sequences as sort of musical flourishes to break up the more verbal exchanges. - where you can have as much gear changing as you want.

Of course, it goes without saying that some do it all better than others. That is just the way of things. But the children don't seem to mind.
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Re: Tradition, originality, and swiping bits

Postby CvdC » 18 Apr 2015, 23:23

I agree with both posters here. I know that sounds awfully magnanimous of me but I have heard from a notable and highly respected puppeteer exactly the same critique of the "photocopied" Punch shows. But at the same time you need to respect the ritualistic aspect of the show. As Chris says it is a problem with seeing so many shows back to back that you get at the May Fayre. The child or adult who encounters just one show a year would not notice.
But it is nice to see a show that adds variance to the well worn routine.
The last few days I have been watching youtube videos of the classic cup and balls routine. What has interested me is that this very ritualistic magic act can have so much variance in performance. I became obsessed with the subtle nuances in timing and humour (entertainment). Punch is like that too.
So you could make sure you see Glyn Edwards do his brilliantly topical Banker routine at the May Fayre.
It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. - Gandhi (Having a bob each way.)
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Re: Tradition, originality, and swiping bits

Postby Timboo » 19 Apr 2015, 01:24

Oh dear Chris S. you have missed my point, Maybe I need to make it clearer for you.

I was not complaining about the ritualistic routines themselves - hence my comment about a well worn sausage!

It is the way they are then presented, Some Profs have no understanding about the rhythm or timing needed to create a performance from the routine and then you just get the carbon copy without any life.

You can equate it to the computer programme that can read a piece of music and play the notes, It does not give a performance and the end result is not something that you want to listen to, It has no idea how to give it any life.

I do see the children switching off from the shows that just go through the motions and I am not only talking about May Fayre, I see shows elsewhere and a varied mixture.

As for a jaded adult not being the intended audience - since when?
When was it decided that Punch was now only a childrens entertainment?
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Re: Tradition, originality, and swiping bits

Postby Chris » 19 Apr 2015, 09:53

No, I haven't missed your point. I just don't agree with you.

As for
When was it decided that Punch was now only a childrens entertainment?

Well I didn't say that did I? But surely you are not arguing to the contrary?

I would have thought the British public have made it evident over the past hundred years that they decided Punch and Judy was mainly to be considered an entertainment for children. It is true that at most public shows there are a large number of adults in the audience but it is obvious from their comments that the appeal is that it brings back memories of their childhood.

I would go further and say that puppets in general have, in Britain, suffered by being generally considered either as a novelty or purely as children's fare. This contrasts strongly with position of puppetry in other parts of the world where it has a position as a mainstream theatrical form.
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