39th Mayfayre

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39th Mayfayre

Postby Richard Coombs » 15 Apr 2014, 12:18

Hello to all.
I daresay Alternative Arts emails will probably find their way to most folk that view this Board , so probably 'preaching to the converted' :-)

But just in case there are those that do not yet know the Covent Garden Mayfayre will be on Sunday 11th May.

Not sure if this is a Richard Robinson or Sue Eaton creation , or by someone else entirely ?
But here is the wonderful artwork from the poster :
Image

I will not be able to perform this year ...oddly enough because I actualy will be in London the week before and after the Mayfayre.
I am down rehearsing something completely different to Punch ( still puppet related though )
But the B&B where I stay does not have room to park my big P&J van.
And having pounded the M40 to London so many times over the years I have recently re-discovered the joys of coming by train and being car free.
These days with tickets bought in advance , it is cheaper than diesel , so I will be down on the Train for that working fortnight.

When performing at the Mayfayre I normally travel down in the dead of night on the Saturday ( to ensure a parking spot mostly , as well as skip the traffic) ...and then grab a few precious hours sleep in the back of the van.
Then drive back home after the event.
Sounds daft I know , but I don't like to leave the loaded van unattended in London with all my show inside , so bringing it all down for those two weeks isn't an option for me ( even if I could park it somewhere)

Next Year is the 40th Mayfayre ...I will do my best to come and actually perform then.

But this year I will be along to enjoy the day as a spectator.

Like many others , I do not get to the Mayfayre every Year .

Some Years I have to miss because Life gets in the way ( it does that sometimes !)
Some years I do perform.
Some years I just go at watch.

Out of the three , the 'just watching' years are the rarest I would say.
But I think it is important to do that every so often ...

Most Punchfolk say the same , when we have our shows with us at Covent Garden , we do not wander more than about 20 yards from our kit all day long , except for trips to the loo : when we watch each others Theatres for whoever is away.
You only really get to see the shows that are on either side of where you are pitched.

So a Year as a 'tourist' lets you wander the whole garden and see more shows - and talk to more friends and Proffs.


So see you there !

Best Wishes

Richard.
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby Richard Coombs » 15 Apr 2014, 16:17

Picture is by Richard Robinson.
Apparently they always have been
( I thought there were at least two artists on alternating years ) ...which just goes to testify to Richards diversity of styles.

Anyhow : truly lovely stuff.

I have printed it off in colour and stuck it up in my workshop next to where I am carving.

Inspirational stuff :-)

Also ..oops ...I have just seen that Chris has already put an announcement about the Mayfayre on the "Coming Events" page ...so yup 'preaching to the converted' . But hey ho.

Best Richard
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby Chris » 16 Apr 2014, 11:28

Yes, I agree, always fantastic artwork of which I've long been a fan. I am surprised you thought there was more than one artist, surely that magnificent jaw is the clue. By the way the current May Fayre flier artwork is always on this site at "http://www.punchandjudy.com/coventgarden.htm".
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby Chris » 26 Apr 2014, 22:49

Getting nearer, getting excited!
To anyone thinking of performing can I remind you that full details are posted on this message board but in the Coming Events section.
The most consistent piece of advice I give to would-be Punch performers is to visit the Covent Garden May Fayre. To appreciate Punch, to really understand Punch, and perform the show properly you need to "catch the bug". But beware, once you do you are infected for life!
To those coming to 'learn' as opposed to just socialise (which is also important) can I offer a couple of tips.
My first suggestion would be to be very sparing in your use of camera or video. You cannot learn about Punch by looking through a viewfinder. Punch is essentially 'live' theatre. Best way is to sit down with the kids or at least crouch at their level so you share their eye-line. Then listen to their reactions and feel their excitement. You will learn a lot that way.
Then pay attention to actual shows. If you have enjoyed one show particularly try and see it again - on the second viewing try and spot its particular merits. Usually I find a lot has to do with rhythm, surety and stylised action. Watch Geoff Felix.
Also see how performers start their show. Some, like David Wilde, or Martin Bridle perhaps, use a bit of business with a monkey or a clown or some such before the show proper, something to attract and settle an audience before Mr Punch's appearance. Others, Bryan Clarke springs to mind, come out front and warm up the audience before disappearing into the booth.
If you are learning the game don't be afraid to ask. You will find that most Punch men can be tremendously generous with their advice if they feel you are genuinely interested.
If you are there all day then a good plan is to split your time into two sessions - first speed-view as many different shows as you can. Then in your second period limit yourself to really studying the two or three shows that most appeal to you.
If you like a particular routine do make notes, but don't video. In that way you will be inspired and influenced (which is what you are there for and is perfectly acceptable) but will not be tempted to copy exactly someone else's ideas (which is morally dubious and rarely successful).
You will see some brilliant shows at the May Fayre. There are some not so good. Even these can be useful in pointing to faults which you can perhaps avoid. Also note how even a mediocre Punch show can evoke a healthy reaction from the children. Children's imagination can neutralise much ineptitude. This should be comforting for the beginner.
Going from past experience you are unlikely to see any really bad shows at the May Fayre.
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby CvdC » 27 Apr 2014, 00:09

Having been to a few of these I can reiterate the advice given about video. When I first went I did tape shows, at that time there was no video of the event or of the shows. Things have changed and now there is a plethora of cameras doing it for you. So many in fact the old requirement to ask permission has gone out the window. Inevitably some of it ends up on youtube. So as Chris writes enjoy being in the moment instead.


The first show is usually Pete Maggs, so be there for that as it is truly inimitable. In fact the serious Punch person would be there to watch the Punchman's Sprint when the gates open at 9. But don't be too bothersome with questions when they are trying to set up - just watch the performance. After the setting up of booths there is the serious socialising before 12.

As the day kicks off the crowds can be impenetrable and you need to be positioned in front of your show as it can be difficult to get from one end of the yard to the other. With two yards in operation this can also be a matter of being in right yard at the right time. Sometimes it is a matter of just watching the show you are nearest to and let serendipity take its course.

Around 3pm the crowds begin to thin out and the second shows start. It sort of winds down around 4 and usually by then I feel I never want to see another Punch show ever again. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

It is a great opportunity to see both the diversity and to discover the nuances in the similarity of the shows. English Punch and Judy comes to you in one long afternoon. It truly is a celebration of the art form and ritual.

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Crowd enjoying themselves at a previous 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: 39th Mayfayre

Postby Richard Coombs » 29 Apr 2014, 21:26

Absolutely Sterling advice there from Chris....especially about not videoing .....watch the shows with your eyes , not a camera lens.

Bits of other performances that I have wanted to emulate , or recreate , or do with my own flourish or twist have always been from shows that I sat and 'watched' properly.

that way the 'memory' of what you found thrilling is what stays with you.
The words do not stay in your mind syllable for syllable ...the moves are not there pinned down in cinemascopic accuracy to agonise over getting right from multiple viewings. But the 'spirit' of the routine stays alive in your mind.

That way when you try to have a go at it yourself , you find your own way to make it happen , your own rhythm with it , and your own twists to make it your version of something classic , rather than a slavish carbon copy.

So I concur : Watch don't Video.

Great stuff from CvdC too : and he has to be the furthest travelled visitor in the May Fayres entire history.
Making that huge trip from Australia : and more than once.

So good advice from a man who had plenty of time on his journey to Covent Garden to decide exactly what he wanted to enjoy from the experience.

Wishing good weather for all the Performers.

See you there.

Best

Richard
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby James » 30 Apr 2014, 15:04

Daniel Hanton's videos really sum up the spirit of the day:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax1B43OvYdY


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Keb7kXRdEk

I look forward to seeing lots of you there!
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby geoff.london » 30 Apr 2014, 20:14

I do think its only polite to ask permission before videoing. I remember one chap (not Daniel who asked and got permission) filming with a very large, professional, camera on a tripod who dropped 2p, yes indeed, when I went round bottling. Sometimes one can understand it when someone just happens to stand directly in front of a video camera.....
Happy belated birthday Richard. Geoff.
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby Chris » 30 Apr 2014, 22:23

With nearly everybody carrying a smart phone and videoing and photographing anything and everything can we really expect them to ask permission? The whole point of having these gadgets is to be able to grab something of interest and this something is not necessarilly planned in advance. I'm afraid that if you perform in public then you must not be surprised if people look at you. A video or photograph is just an extension of looking. You don't have to ask permission to video Royalty, politicians or celebreties so why should Punch & Judy performers be any different? It's when nobody ever wants to video you that you should worry.
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby CvdC » 30 Apr 2014, 23:48

It is sometimes easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission it would seem.
But lets face it the May Fayre is something of a media frenzy.

James could you ask Daniel to film pete Maggs' entire show? With permission of course. I think this needs to be recorded for posterity and I personally would like to watch it every now and then.
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: 39th Mayfayre

Postby geoff.london » 01 May 2014, 20:53

Yes I know its like King Canute ordering the tide not to come in but .... G.
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby lesclarke » 01 May 2014, 22:27

Yes, the world has very much moved on with camera phones able to video a show, but I sympathise with Geoff when faced with a professional type of camera, possibly intending to record the whole show.

Perhaps asking who they are and 'what it's for' is part of the answer, and though it is a 'free country' a camera on a tripod, plus operator in a prominent position can block other people's view, or even just be a distraction, so it could in some circumstances be reasonable to ask them to film from a less prominent position. After all you are there to entertain that audience and they take priority.

As far as the tide goes, every morning I tell it not to approach too near my back door, and so far it has not gone against my orders.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby geoff.london » 02 May 2014, 16:33

I'm glad you have had success Les. My attempts at walking on water have only led to embarrassment and soggy socks....well at least I think that's what they were!
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby lesclarke » 04 May 2014, 11:39

I think it helps that I live live up here in the Pennines Geoff.
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Re: 39th Mayfayre

Postby Chris » 04 May 2014, 16:04

Ah, that must be it Les. You are a bit further than Geoff from the Thames. Geoff I suggest you delay your next saunter until the next Frost Fair. There's nothing worse than soggy bottoms is there?
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