Just Introducing myself!

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Just Introducing myself!

Postby Puppet Palooza » 25 Mar 2016, 23:36

Hello everybody!

I'm Jonathan Woodliff from the United States. I live in the Northwestern corner of Arkansas, which is the most prosperous and culturally rich part of the state. If I'm going to be stuck in a backwater State like Arkansas, I'm glad I'm in the most culturally rich part of it. I've been puppeteering in one form or another since I was five years old. My mother built and performed puppets for church and first taught me how to handle a Henson styled hand puppet. I later graduated to ventriloquism at age seven with my first figure/dummy. Or, as you say in England, Ventriloquist doll. I'm a decent ventriloquist, but, not the best in the World. I'm sure I'll get better with practice. I'm 33-years-old. I guess I never practiced throwing my voice as much as I should have. I've also been stage acting since I was 13-years-old and sometimes, I'm a comic. Actually, I'm a comic all of the time, but, I'm talking about on stage. :P

We have a farmer's market here in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In fact, it was judged as being the best farmer's market in the United States recently. As I said, the art culture is especially rich here. Both performing and visual. Our Farmer's market, which is often very* crowded, has a wonderful variety of street performers. I spoke with the lady in charge of entertainment for the market about doing a street puppet show. She loved the idea! At the time, I didn't know what I wanted to do. Hand puppets the size and type of Henson puppets are often perform exclusively with arms over head. Then, operating the mouth works a few more muscles besides. I was worried that, if I did this type of show, my arms would give out after about two twenty minute shows. I decided to go with hands in front of face with my stage. That was the first decision I made in order to have less fatigue. As I mentioned before, operating the mouth can also tire you out quickly. Especially if the particular puppet you're working has a mouth that is difficult to operate and takes some muscle power. The second decision I made was to go with glove puppets. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about wearing myself out operating the mouths. Plus, if you have two large hand puppets, you need to have a second puppeteer most of the time due to the fact that you have to work one of the puppets arms and the mouth. Well, I decided I was going to do a glove puppets show, but, I had no idea what* I was going to do. I had seen A Punch Show before in a movie, but, had no idea what it was called. Here in the southern US, we don't get very much World culture, although, that is* beginning to change. Not to say anything nasty or be political, but the South is very insular. My main reference to glove puppets was "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood". I started trying to find Mr. Rogers' styled puppets,still not knowing what show I wanted to do. I was thinking about doing Grimm's Fairy Tales since I have the whole collection of them and could write scripts in my own style based on that. Then, one fateful day about three weeks ago, I was reading a web page about various types of puppets when I saw "Punch and Judy" type puppets mentioned. I immediately looked up "Punch and Judy" and fell completely in love. I began watching videos on YouTube and quickly realized that this* was the show I wanted to do! So, for what ever it's worth, I've decided to become a Punchman. :D I saw a video Rod Burnett's Punch and Judy show and have watched it over and over. I was captivated! I then watched all of the videos on this website and saw a variety of different Professors performing. I'm hooked!

I've been looking for ways I can either build or buy a set. Living in the U.S., international shipping can be a pain to say the least. As you know, It's very expensive. I can't sew, which is a hurdle I will have to over come. I live in an apartment and have no room for a work shop, which is another hurdle. I'll have to go with paper mache, because, I'm certainly no wood carver. I am* a decent sculptor though. I've even toyed with finding an old, worn out looking set, and restoring it. That would save me from having to sculpt new heads and save me from doing very much sewing. I know that sounds lazy, but, I told the people at the Farmer's market that I would try to have something ready for the beginning of the season this year. The street entertainers are basically busking, so, we work off of tips anyway. They haven't payed me or anything and there is no contract,so, no real rush. I was just told to let them know when ever I had it ready. I've been practicing variations of some of the routines with just my hands and no puppets. I'm going to order a couple of books, one of course being the book by Prof. Glynn Edwards. I haven't even acquired a swazzle as of yet. I'm very strict. I won't do it without learning to swazzle. I feel the way many of you most likely feel. Punch isn't Punch without the swazzle. I look forward to hearing any advice and will gladly except it. I'm glad to be here and I hope to learn a lot!

Jonathan Woodliff
Puppet Palooza

Re: Just Introducing myself!

Postby bilbobaglin » 13 May 2016, 21:50


I have to say I am impressed with how brave you are starting up so far from civilisation :lol: Especially without having seen a show live.

You are luck to have those sculpting skills you spoke of, I have nothing of the sort so instead I adapted exsisting Kasperl puppets into Punch puppets (which is why mine are a little smaller than most).

As regards the Swazzle you can make your own if you buy the instructions from this very site. Well worth it.

Good luck.
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Re: Just Introducing myself!

Postby geoff.london » 15 May 2016, 14:24

Welcome Jonathan! There are a few Punch Men in the U.S.A. There is Mark Walker in Baltimore and Brent De Witt who tours with a circus. Both of these have spent time in the U.K. Also there is a book on Punch in America by Ryan Howard.
Bryan Clarke makes excellent figures and can send them abroad.
I'm not sure that Punch and Judy is less hard work than other puppets though. It depends on how much vim you put into it. Rod's show is more relaxed because of his experience, and the accuracy of his manipulation. I believe he has done some teaching in Charleville. Best wishes, Geoff.
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