I am writing a play..

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I am writing a play..

Postby Paddy » 30 Jan 2008, 17:24

Hello
I am writing a play as part of a degree course. My play features a Punch booth and I have been able to get a lot of technical information from reading these boards and from the website so thank you. One thing I don't know is how do you see out of your booths when you are performing? Is this a really stupid question?
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Postby Peter » 30 Jan 2008, 18:05

It's best if you can't.
It's very off-putting to watch your whole audience get up and walk away after 3 or 4 minutes.
Perhaps I'll try the Georgian show next.
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Postby Chris » 30 Jan 2008, 18:06

You have a peephole. Depending upon how you perform, hands over head, or hands in front of face, alters where this is. It may be a gap beneath the playboard drape or a gauzed area of the backcloth. I've seen one Punch booth with a wooden front equipped with one of those security peephole viewers you sometimes find in hotel bedroom doors.

But wherever it is you have a very limited view of the audience, particularly those close to the front of the booth. But during the show it isn't the audience you are looking at, it is the puppets. You have to watch what you are doing.

This is no different to an actor in a play, he cannot see his audience once the houselights are down
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whole screen

Postby Trev » 30 Jan 2008, 18:57

In some cases it is also possible to use a backdrop/screen which it is possible for the performed to see through but not the audience (although sometimes it can mean you need a darker material behind you to 'black you out'.

Sometimes the painting on the backdrop helps mask the performer.
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Postby Chris » 30 Jan 2008, 19:22

Yes we all know that Trev, but there are some things you don't shout about for someone researching for a play.
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Postby Tony James » 30 Jan 2008, 19:32

On a hot day Paddy, when the sun is shining and you're working hands above head, the sweat can pour off you. It runs down your face and if you don't close them, the salt will get into your eyes and sting. Then you can't see at all.

I close my eyes and work that way. Not all the time. There are parts of the show where you have to watch what you're doing. But after years of repeat performances you do know instinctively how to position and move the figures.

So being able to see generally is useful but not critical.

And Peter - it's not the Georgian show you need to try. It's the hat!!

And Trev - naughty, naughty, naughty!
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oops,

Postby Trev » 30 Jan 2008, 19:39

Ooops, sorry. I didn't realise it was a trade secret! :oops:

Which bit is the secret bit?

I just assumed anyone working in the theatre would have some idea about such things if they asked a techy.

Considering such things are readily available in the books about performing Punch I didn't think I was breaking any code of silence, particularly when the information is on this site already and the original poster said they had already got a lot of practical info from the site.
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Postby Chris » 30 Jan 2008, 21:35

Don't make a big issue Trev. It isn't a big secret. I and others would just like to maintain a bit of mystery about how the puppets can address particular people. This causes more comment among the public than how Punch's voice is made.

Obviously Paddy hadn't found this information elsewhere on the website otherwise he wouldn't have put the question. I told the truth, gave an adequate answer for his purposes.

The one way mirror principle used by hands in front of face performers is not yet widely known by the general public. It's no great secret, but surely a little bit of mystery worth preserving?
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Postby CvdC » 30 Jan 2008, 23:03

Chris I would have said the same thing about the Swazzle.

If working hands over head it is an idea to have a hole placed behind some fringe under the playboard. I have made mine large enough so I can put puppets through it.

I have a technique I use in which I talk to children in the audience before the show. I listen for when names are mentioned or ask what their names are. Later I use the names in the show. Of course the children don't associate the bloke they spoke to earlier with the puppet. But this is a secret too so keep it under your hat (as I'm you always do Tony)
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Postby Chris » 30 Jan 2008, 23:20

Chris, I do say the same about the swazzle.
It's the same with magic tricks. I don't mind them being published for those who take the trouble to seek them out - but I object to them being deliberately or unnecessarily exposed. There's a difference to a secret being available in a library book which someone has to make an effort to discover and read, and the secret of last night's TV illusionist being published in a newspaper for everyone to read whether really interested or not.
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a big thing

Postby Trev » 30 Jan 2008, 23:36

OK Chris, perhaps you have a point, but as I spend (or used to) a lot of time with theatre folk I am not always aware of how much the general public do or don't know these days. However, I'd have thought that someone writing a play was not necessarily general public, they are someone involved in theatre and therefore I am simply saring theatrical technique with a fellow practitioner.

As for you 'telling the truth', well so did I. Why is your secret more accessible than mine?

Paddy says he(?) has looked through the sie but as the references are quite small it is possible he has mssed them. Why then should I be criticised for pointing out these things?
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Postby CvdC » 30 Jan 2008, 23:39

Yes I agree, there are some magic tricks attached to the performance of Punch and Judy.
During the Folk festival I attended earlier we gave a workshop on the performance of Punch. We stood on a stage in front of quite a large audience and one of the others started explaining the use and construction of the swazzle - in detail. If there had been a table I'd have kicked him under it. I was gritting my teeth and muttering off mic for him to shut up.
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Postby Chris » 30 Jan 2008, 23:51

Trev, if you can't see the point then I despair.
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double standards

Postby Trev » 31 Jan 2008, 10:30

As I frequently despair Chris when you fail (or refuse) to see my point(s).
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Postby Paddy » 01 Feb 2008, 11:00

I am really sorry to have started an argument.
Please be safe in the knowledge that I'm not a general member of the public in that way and as this is a student play it will probably never be seen!
The play won't be dealing with the secrets of the Punch and Judy show, even though it is set largely inside a booth it's more about what it's like to be a live performer and the history of this kind of entertainment. That's the idea anyway. And hopefully it will be funny.
Without giving anything away if any of you can think of things that don't normally get asked, non-technical stuff about living the life as it were, I would be really grateful.
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