Advice for a new boy

This is the place for Technical Tips, Questions and Answers.

Advice for a new boy

Postby okko » 13 Jan 2008, 22:32

I have decided to have my mid life crisis in the form of obtaining some punch and judy puppets. I was wondering what advice more experienced members of this forum would give me in starting out the process of learning the art of puppetry.
I have always been attracted to Punch and Judy due to its symbolism , satire and history and see my recent purchase of the two puppets as being totally self indulgent with no particular plans to "give up the day job" to become professional!!
However any tips or advice on starting learning how to develop the skills or training courses etc would be appreciated.
okko
Chipolata
Chipolata
 
Posts: 11
Joined: 16 Dec 2007, 09:38
Location: Blackpool

Postby lesclarke » 13 Jan 2008, 23:21

That's a very big question, but there are a lot of very experienced people who are a source of much information 'here'.

Personally I think the best advice to you at this stage would be something concise, along the lines of...

Read all the books, and allow them to 'sink in', see as many shows as you can and talk to other Punch performers and enthusiasts.
...and try and remember what excited you about Punch when you were a kid.

One point, you mention 'the process of learning the art of puppetry.'
Punch is clearly part of puppetry, it could be considered as one distinct style of puppetry, and I believe that the more it remains true to it's own distinctive style the more powerful it will be.

Enjoy reading, and re-reading all the books, there is always something to be learned and some things take ages to 'sink in', in that sometimes they only 'sink in' when they are relevant to you and your show.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
User avatar
lesclarke
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 756
Joined: 14 Sep 2006, 17:12
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Postby Professor Eek » 13 Jan 2008, 23:24

All the above ... and get to the May Fayre in Covent Garden to see several shows and meet some Punch folk.
==============================
incredibly bad magic and dreadful balloon modelling thrown in for free
User avatar
Professor Eek
Croc's Delight
Croc's Delight
 
Posts: 457
Joined: 02 Oct 2006, 05:43
Location: Reading - Berkshire

Postby CvdC » 14 Jan 2008, 08:23

Having learnt Punch from reading (and vague memories) I am now of the opinion that you shouldn't read but see. The true magic is in the performance - the puppetry. And this is never described in any of the books where too much emphasis seems to be on the dialogue.
Someone once said that the essence of drama and comedy is conflict. In Punch and Judy the conflict is essentially between the left and the right hand of the same performer. This allows for a certain co-ordination that needs to be exploited. I'll give you an example:

You can pop up a puppet as if looking for another. With split second timing you can pop up the other at the precise moment that that puppet is looking in the wrong direction. This gives rise to the classic "over there" routine. So you do this once, then do it again and the audience having learnt to expect a pattern so you then do something different.
Like that old Chaplin story about someone stepping over a man hole to avoid falling in it but then slipping on a banana peel.

The other thing I was just thinking of was Basil Fawlty and his wife Sybil. Now when Sybil shouted out "Basil!" John Cleese used to do his sort of jerk of submission. Now this is pure Punch and Judy. You can with one hand have Punch waltzing about being frivolous and quietly bring up Judy with the other hand as if unoticed by Punch. Punch suddenly turns and is confronted by Judy. He does that jerk, which is a sudden stop with a slight backwards flick. In one swift action you have established to the audience the conlict in the relationship between Punch and Judy.
I know this sounds complex but in practice it is such a simple thing and will always get a laugh.
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.)
User avatar
CvdC
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 1032
Joined: 12 Aug 2006, 01:02
Location: Antipodes

Postby Peter » 14 Jan 2008, 11:25

....and then practise and practise and practise

...or buy a big hat.
Did I ever tell you about piece work?
User avatar
Peter
Thick Link
Thick Link
 
Posts: 137
Joined: 16 Jan 2007, 10:22
Location: Suffolk

Postby Professor Eek » 14 Jan 2008, 12:14

Big hats are good but you can't beat quality knitwear

:roll:
==============================
incredibly bad magic and dreadful balloon modelling thrown in for free
User avatar
Professor Eek
Croc's Delight
Croc's Delight
 
Posts: 457
Joined: 02 Oct 2006, 05:43
Location: Reading - Berkshire

Postby Tony James » 14 Jan 2008, 12:37

You're not allowed to wear a big hat until you've been at it a long time!

If you want to know what people expect of the show, first think about it and jot down your abiding memories.. Then talk to people - your own elder relatives, friends and neighbours and note what sticks in their minds.

Then go and check out the few books which are available. Most are out of print. However, you may initially find copies in the libraries and Blackpool may be able to order them from another library. If all fails, Manchester City Library Arts reference section has most but of course you have to sit and read - you can't borrow them.

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchEntry

is an excellent book search engine.

A fine introduction would be George Speaight Punch & Judy published by Studio Vista 1970

The other general publication is Robert Leach The Punch & Judy Show published by Batsford 1985 and this has the most comprehensive bibliography which will lead you to other works.

Neither of these will teach you how to do the show but will provide you with the background, history and development.

One other similar but with alternative views on the history is Michael Byrom Punch & Judy Its Origin and Evolution. Try if you can to obtain the later revised edition published by DaSilva Books in 1988.

There are a small number of books explaining the show though none of them are really 'How to' books in any detailed way. You won't learn how to end up with the right hand in the right puppet at the right time.

One booklet which will tell you how to work puppets is Schubert's Manual of Hand Puppet Manipulation. As a basic primer it is excellent and I wish I had had a copy when I first began.
Tony James

Magic With A Punch!
User avatar
Tony James
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 664
Joined: 08 Aug 2006, 21:22
Location: Cheshire UK

Postby Professor Eek » 14 Jan 2008, 13:05

'Successful Punch & Judy' by 'Prof Glynn Edwards is a great starting out book.

I think you can getthese still from Ray Da Silva - try 'ere ...

http://www.puppetbooks.co.uk/
==============================
incredibly bad magic and dreadful balloon modelling thrown in for free
User avatar
Professor Eek
Croc's Delight
Croc's Delight
 
Posts: 457
Joined: 02 Oct 2006, 05:43
Location: Reading - Berkshire

Postby Chris » 14 Jan 2008, 14:12

Take Chris Van Der Craats' advice. Don't read - see.
Watch as many shows as you possibly can. The Covent Garden events in May and October give you a chance to see several performances at the same time.

The theory and the history can all come later.

The only books that will give you clues on how to DO the show are Glyn Edwards' book Successful Punch and Judy, which Eek rightly recommends, and Eric Sharp's Specialised Punch and Judy.

A video which would certainly help is How to Do Punch & Judy by Peter Stedman.

The technical books which may be of value from a constructional point of view are John Alexander's The Expanded Frame File and Edwin Hooper's Hello Mr Punch together with Eric Sharp's book.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3214
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Postby lesclarke » 14 Jan 2008, 17:46

It is getting easier to see shows than say 20 years ago, but can still involve a long journey to CG to be sure of not travelling a fair way to see a poor show. Then again one can learn a lot from a poor show.

One point about viewing shows as a newcomer, with aspirations to perform is 'how' should you watch shows? Do you watch it as a typical audience member, letting yourself get involved then think back about what you enjoyed etc, or try and be a bit more detached and see how a particular performer does the show. Obviously a video cam has its uses.

I'd still suggest starting to work through the books, as I believe info goes into the brain, and pops back to the surface later when needed, and they are a good way to maintain enthusiasm between the long gaps between viewing shows, favouring Glyn Edwards for 'How to do', and Geoff Felix's 'Conversations with Punch' to get the 'spirit' of Punch
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
User avatar
lesclarke
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 756
Joined: 14 Sep 2006, 17:12
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Postby okko » 14 Jan 2008, 19:23

Many thanks for your replies , possibly will start with getting the DVD as I do find I learn better via seeing and I must say following the bits put up from members here on "you tube" has been great to get things going. CDVC not only are your puppets good - like your show as well
This is a Great website I might add.
okko
Chipolata
Chipolata
 
Posts: 11
Joined: 16 Dec 2007, 09:38
Location: Blackpool

Sydney De Hempsey.

Postby Trev » 14 Jan 2008, 20:09

Main piece of advice? Enjoy doing it or don't do it.

A word of warning about reading too much... one or two books stress that Punch must be "subversive". It stressed the hell out of me when I started doing Punch as to whether I was being true to Punch and was I being subversive enough. I later realised it was blocking my show and not allowing me to enjoy the show as much because I was getting too serious about it. When I relaxed and started doing old routines from my earlier shows, and enjoying the audience's laughter things went a lot better!

Chris, I notice you don't mention Sydney De Hempsey's books. Just curious, is there a reason for this or are they now a bit redundant since the Glynn Edwards book?
Trev
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 309
Joined: 05 Sep 2006, 17:44
Location: Poland

Postby CvdC » 14 Jan 2008, 22:26

Yes read the books as well as go to London on the 11th of May.
I travelled many miles to stand in the rain but you get a comparative survey of the state of the art in just one location all in one day. The audience there seem to be dedicated Punch enthusuists, old and young.
The annoying thing is there may be two shows on at the same time. So you stand watching a show thinking the one you're missing is better.

You do miss the ambience of the village fete or the seaside but you can get that another time. So do as Chris does and book a hotel for a couple of nights and make a complete day of it.
Then go out for dinner and a drink with some of the most eccentric people you are ever likely to meet. You won't feel so alone then.

Oh and from my experience I would suggest learning the swazzle right from the start. There is nothing worse than developing an unswazzled show and then ruin it all by deciding later to swazzle.
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.)
User avatar
CvdC
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 1032
Joined: 12 Aug 2006, 01:02
Location: Antipodes

Postby Chris » 14 Jan 2008, 23:38

Trev - yes there is a reason. The obvious reason, I don't think they are useful in this context.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3214
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Postby Tony James » 15 Jan 2008, 00:07

There's a long time between now and Covent garden. A time when one can read the history and gain an understanding of where the show comes from.

Punch is what the operator makes of it, from a 'mamby-pamby' nursery tale to a full blood and guts adult subversive and any degree between. There's no right and wrong, only what works or doesn't and what you are comfortable with. There are so many differing styles out there that to pick them off, one at a time is one thing. But to see a great many all at once is something else again.

I still think that the best thing for a beginner, especially at this time of the year, is first to think about it and talk about it and read about it and by then it will be time to go see it at Covent Garden, or rather to see them, in all their multi-aspect glory.
Tony James

Magic With A Punch!
User avatar
Tony James
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 664
Joined: 08 Aug 2006, 21:22
Location: Cheshire UK

Next

Return to Punch Workshop

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron