May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

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May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Chris » 14 May 2012, 23:53

I hope to have a great many nice pictures of this event eventually, but for those who weren't there I have made a quick preliminary gallery which is mainly just a record of the 30 plus fit-up prosceniums - the most there have ever been. Actually the celebrations started on the Saturday with what was really a giant press photo opportunity. A enormous punch booth of scaffolding and canvas was erected at one end of Covent Garden. As many as possible of the visiting professors squeezed into this, and after a very well delivered pithy introductory address from Punch archivist Geoff Felix a veritable sea of Punch figures appeared atop the giant booth alongside a giant birthday cake (which appropriately was really a sausage-cake).
All a little bit of a shambles, but great fun. Then all the profs paraded around Covent Garden and ended with a group photograph. In the morning, and late afternoon, there were Punch and Judy performances from David Wilde, Geoff Felix, Clive Chandler and Dan Bishop, as well as one from Japan and another from Australia. There was also an Italian Pulcinella showman.

But the real event was on the Sunday with the usual May Fayre in St Paul's Church Gardens - the usual but bigger and better. Both lawns (usually only one) were absoutely packed with Punch booths - over thirty of them. And after a grand parade with marching band, pearly kings and queens, and Punchmen and puppeteers galore, there was a celebratory Church service in St Pauls and the fun continued with constant performances throughout the day with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of delighted visitors. The sun shone and it was a truly delightful day. Then in the evening many of us gathered at the nearby Strand Palace Hotel for a carvery meal followed by a show. This was a PJF enterprise - the result of the enthusiasm, drive and hard work of David Wilde, James Arnott and Mark Andrews. Mark, for personal reasons, had unfortunately to withdraw in the latter stages of the planning and thus extra work fell on David's and James' shoulders. They did us proud. I enjoyed the meal, even though the large number of us and the nature of Carvery service meant that we had huge queues snaking around the restaurant.
The show was in a downstairs function room, and the highlights were a very funny magician called Mel Mellers and a marionette cabaret presentation from Robin and Nigel who are Presto Puppets.
Most of us were pretty tired after a very long day of great fun. I bet David and James were utterly exhausted.
There were quite a few message board regulars in attendance - Eek has added to talents and performed as a one-man-band as well as his Punch and Judy Show. Miraiker was there with Peter. The Dan's were there, Dan from Great Yarmouth and Daniel Slater from up North (by that I mean Yorkshire, not the other place). Also Chris vdC all the way from Australia, and Paul Wheeler.
You'll probably get a proper and fuller review on the PJF website, but I wanted to get in first with a few photographs at least to give a flavour of the day.
So go have a look at:
http://www.punchandjudy.com/gallerymayfayre2012
As I mentioned , the pictures are mostly booths rather than people or puppets. They will come later.
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby James » 15 May 2012, 09:19

Thanks Chris, glad you enjoyed the party.

It was a great week, all in all, though it seemed to go on forever. We did quite a few press interviews during the week for The Fellowship, some of which ended up on the cutting room floor. Then there was the launch event at The Little Angel Theatre, organised by Robert Styles, with a sausage buffet, music, and a superb Punch show from John Styles MBE, one of the funniest I've ever seen.

Friday was a nice relaxing catch up with Messrs. Hanton, Wilde and Styles, ahead of the busy weekend that was to come.

Saturday’s event was great fun, it was amazing to see so many old faces coming out of the woodwork, Punch in hand, for the parade and photo. I would say that the Big Booth was rather cramped, with 100 odd sweaty Punch men crowded in there, and the playboard was far too high. Again the arrangements should have been better for the staging of the group photo. But I look forward to seeing them. The sound of 100 crocodiles snapping away was quite something.

The Sunday, after a lovely breakfast at a 24hr café with Richard Coombs and David Wilde saw a bumper edition of the May Fayre, as Chris describes above. It was packed with performers and crowds; at times it was impossible to move, and some performers were getting very territorial over their pitches. I was rather busy with raffles, tickets and the like, so only saw a few bits of shows. I managed to catch the first 10 minutes of Richard’s extravaganza, and very good it was too with some very clever puppets and puppetry.
The PJF party in the evening, flew by in a blur, but that may have been the hefty blow to the head I suffered from a lighting stand. I can say though that the performers all worked very hard, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Monday evening saw the Subversive Symposium at Central School of Speech and Drama, chaired by Cariad Astles, there were presentations by Jill Fell talking about Alfred Jarry and Ubu, Amber West speaking about Charlotte Charke, Neenagh Watson on Punch and Judy and Joe Beeby, and Glyn Edwards on Punch and his collaboration with Ken Campbell. It was an interesting evening, and all four spoke very well. Though I still feel vehemently opposed to Neenagh’s opinion that Punch and Judy is a horrid show!

See you all in another 350 years!
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Chris » 15 May 2012, 10:47

Yes, I saw Neenagh give an inappropriate interview where amidst everyone else's joy and celebrations she claimed Punch was a horrid story - a bit ungrateful perhaps since it seems to be serving her well. Apparently she is going to "deconstruct Punch & Judy"? Is this the gobbledegook one learns to speak when chasing funding?
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Richard Coombs » 16 May 2012, 17:37

What a splendid weekend.

I didn't do much in the way of taking pictures Im afraid ..but there were plenty of folk with cameras out, so I look forward to seeing snaps at some stage. ( nice gallery so far Chris ..very nice).

Fantastic to catch up with people in person ..Miraiker and Peter , Cvdc, Chris S , Mssrs Felix, Arnott & Wilde (commissioners for Oaths) , Joe Burns , Mark Poulton , Michael Dixon oohh too many to mention.

Also, wondeful to take delivery of two splendid new 'Birthday Boys' ..a couple of carved Punches from Mark Poulton and CvdC ...really nice puppets , which can now join the one Geoff Felix made for me a while back - they are my 350th "Triplets" ; pics to follow another day.

And the most welcome visitor of the whole weekend .....The Sunshine !

Oh it just couldn't have been better.
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Benjie » 16 May 2012, 18:06

Richard, your show was amazing, I havnt seen your perform before but it was one of the higlights of my weekend, it really has to be seen to be believed!
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Chris » 16 May 2012, 18:17

Yes Benjie, Richard has to be seen to be believed.

Richard, glad you liked the pictures, but they are only temporary. There are some real pictures coming. Both Dan Hanton and Michael Dixon have extremely generously opened their memory sticks to me to grab what I want. They are both splendid photographers and thorough in their coverage.
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby paulwheeler » 16 May 2012, 18:55

Do like the pic's Chris,and I'm sorry to say didnt get there saturday :( but was there Sunday a nice turn out by all great to meet a few friend's and a few new one's and as for the weather well! what can I say but lovely.... nice to see a few new show's there too.....
Love being a Punch & Judy man!
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Richard Coombs » 16 May 2012, 19:02

It was nice to see you there on Sunday Paul.

I have been lucky enough to have a look at Michael Dixons pics on his flickr site , and must agree with you Chris -- he really is a superb photographer.. it will be nice to have some of his shots in the galleries here ( when you see them Paul , you will feel as if you were there on Saturday too - Michael took wonderful stage by stage coverage of the whole day ).

And Cheers Benjie ..always nice to know folk like all the tricks and novelties ... makes the time in the workshop feel worthwhile :-)
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby lesclarke » 17 May 2012, 13:31

It's always the same small group who do all the planning and graft for such events, and we are all very grateful to them. They will have worked so hard, got very tired, and as players in the FA Cup Final always say - it will have gone by so fast. But as well as the fun side they will have the memories of being right at the centre of this historic event. Thanks to everyone from the initial massive job of grant application to the historic 2 day event and all that went with it.

Here's a thought.. some of those involved will/may even be around at the BIG 400, not sure I will, but I'm pacing myself!

Just looked on Flickr, good 'Old' Sid Williams has 290 pics, I will put aside some time next week to enjoy them an many more at my leisure.

Richard, how does one find Michael Dixon's pics on Flickr?
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Miraiker » 17 May 2012, 19:52

It was a lovely weekend.
Thanks Richard for the very early morning tea and biscuits, sorry I ate all your tomatoes.

Chris, I know you'll have an excellent set of photos for the gallery but knew you'd want this last one.
I post it knowing that you've been so pivotal in encouraging the growing number of women performers. Where would we be without you. I believe you missed this show despite your best efforts so this is for you.

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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Chris » 17 May 2012, 20:31

Is that really a woman Miraiker? Shows what I know. I would have sworn that it was a giraffe!
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Miraiker » 17 May 2012, 20:56

Well spotted (that's the giraffe too).
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby CvdC » 17 May 2012, 22:58

Marijke I am left thinking what Freudian analysis would come with in regard to that giraffe. I think there are even a few male performers who'd envy that long neck.
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: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Miraiker » 17 May 2012, 23:07

Ah Chris, I think Freud may have been more interested in why someone would choose to correct my mother's spelling of my name. She may not have chosen a traditional spelling of it but I believe it was her right to make the decision.
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Re: May Fayre 2012, Mr. Punch's 350th Birthday Celebrations

Postby Chris » 17 May 2012, 23:30

Parried like a true lady.
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