The audience and the show

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The audience and the show

Postby CvdC » 25 Jan 2014, 23:25

While gathering together images for the Punch Art Gallery
http://www.speckinspace.com/punchartgallery/
I began having a look at the English Genre painters of the 19th century. At a time when industrialisation was in full swing and the villages that surrounded London were being swallowed up by the suburbs a number of painters took to painting scenes of village life. It was of course a nostalgia for a rapidly disappearing life that was popular among the art buyers. Eventually these same images ended up on jigsaw puzzles and chocolate boxes where they found a renewed popularity in the twentieth century.
A popular theme seems to be the Punch and Judy show.


Image

In the gallery there are some examples. The itinerant Punch set up outside the village inn entertaining a number of folk who have stopped to see the show.
Often these are partly character studies of different rural types, a mixture of children and adults, the bottler and some animals artfully composed to dynamically fill the canvas, nicely integrated into the surrounding buildings and big old trees.

For us Punch and Judy enthusiasts the different booths depicted are of enormous historic interest. I have also taken an interest in the audience itself. In particular how the people congregate before the show. How the children can't resist a peek into the booth. The smallest being held in the arms of a parent. The adults lurking at the back. Sound familiar? Yes it is the same today as it has always been. There are some truly interesting images of Punch audiences.

This is a popular one from Dublin

Image

And on the other side of the world in South Australia


Image

Here is a twentieth century use of the audience to create an interesting composition comprised of people, including a rather buff puppet show enthusiast (Felixstowe).
Image

And here is a contemporary one that I took. It shows the reverse side but is a familiar story many will recognise.

Image

There are more images in the pictures of historic pitches. The one in Ilfracomb is a classic.

http://www.speckinspace.com/historicpitches/

I have taken so many pictures of Punch booths, including close ups of the puppets I have now become interested in these little scenarios that are very particular to the Punch and Judy show. I know many of you will share this interest.
Here is an image from the web. You could look at these faces and know instantly it is a Punch and Judy show they are watching.

http://ashfordps.blogspot.com.au/2012_09_01_archive.html (scroll down)

In these images there is a narrative told by the expressions on faces, children pointing as they shout "behind you!", the eye lines are important, the way the people sit and stand trying to retain their dignity while still enjoying the show. The pictures capture a moment.
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: The audience and the show

Postby lesclarke » 28 Jan 2014, 19:02

Yes audiences do make good pics.

And sometimes it is worth stating the obvious. The audience is important.

Worth thinking about at this time of the year, with a season approaching.
I think I will repeat it to myself a few dozen times.
Or have a little sign made below the playboard.

Chris' recent post STARTING AND FINISHING regarding warm up, preparing the audience, was worth reading, even if it attracted no other contributions.

After all, the audience is 'where it happens!' Audience reaction is the result! The only true measure of how well the show went. We 'do our bit' with the intention of exciting the audience, we may get them mildly amused, they are 'getting hotter' it starts to 'burn' and then they are (hopefully) 'on fire'! Result!

On the radio today a scientist was talking about research into the biological and psychological origins of comedy. Apparently other mammals, rats, cats, dogs also can be regarded as 'laughing.' One point I can remember that she made was about comedy being more powerful when it is a shared experience, apparently we laugh more intensely when enjoying it in the company of others.

Some of the most enjoyable performances I have seen have been done by Profs who as well as having other strong points are particularly good at working the audience, or rather working that particular audience, as every audience is different. So when what worked so well in your first show, and made you a bit cocky, doesn't get a laugh in the next show, it's time to try and get in tune with this new audience.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
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Re: The audience and the show

Postby CvdC » 28 Jan 2014, 23:14

I was referring to the visual aspect of the audience.
Nevertheless Les, this "enjoying it in the company of others" is a good snippet of information.
It is of course why they include laughter on television programs. But in live theatre it is immensely important.
I have, I admit, had my son out in the audience to seed the laughter and shout out.

Last year I did some shows that were hands in front of face. I was astounded at the difference it makes to the way you perform to (for, with) the audience.

On the matter of setting the audience alight I once had the idea that in a Punch show the trick is that the audience entertain themselves and then give the performer the credit. When I remember this I tend to relax and focus more on the audience. Forgetting the audience is endemic in puppetry, it is too easy to do.

Once a person is laughing you can get an audience to join in. Once an audience is laughing they will laugh at any daft thing. You see this in comedians who use funny facial expressions) So it generates its own momentum.

I have said it before and shall repeat: My own personal mark of a good show is when they come around the back of the booth after the show. The adults thank you and the children want to look into the booth to discover the magic. That's why I like that image of Geoff's booth after a show. I have an even better shot of that moment but it has Geoffrey in it chatting to the children.
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: The audience and the show

Postby lesclarke » 29 Jan 2014, 09:31

Another bit of the science that I found interesting was along the lines of that when we laugh uncontrollably it actually gets in the way of our breathing, and so for a while makes us vulnerable. The scientist suggested that if a tiger or other threat, suddenly appeared, we would suddenly regain control.

I think they were saying that evolution had allowed this to happen, despite this slight risk, because there were so many benefits from laughing and especially from laughing together and helping the group to bond together through a shared experience.

Back to the visual side of the audience, which sparked off my diversion, they are indeed fascinating to watch and photograph.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
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