Horsing around

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Horsing around

Postby CvdC » 08 Jun 2009, 14:18

Now understand that I am only doing this for those of you who were not there or were at the other end of the church yard and missed this show. I do believe that watching other glove puppet shows allows us to reflect on the Punch and Judy tradition, its uniqueness and that which it has in common with other members of the family.

My interest in this show was that just prior to going to London this year I had read a book on Petrushka and was going to Russia a few days after the May Fayre. So it was with great delight and serendipity that I saw this show.
I think Elena and Alexander are doing a great job in being part of the rebirth of this puppet to Russian culture. As has been said the tradition was a victim of how governments can saturate a culture through funding. Every major town in Russia has a grand puppet theatre. I visited one in Tomsk and met the director. They had over 20 people working there!!!
Here is the theatre in Novosibirsk:
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Chris you should have defected when you had the chance. You would have been an important man in Soviet Russia.

So here we have one part of the Russian show. The gypsy who tries to sell Petrushka a rather run down horse. He cheats the gypsy but in the end it is the gypsy who has cheated him. In one script I read Petrushka's wife gives him some money to buy the horse. Petrushka decides to pocket most of it and buy a cheap horse from a crooked gypsy. But the horse ends up bucking him just as Hector does in Piccini's script.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvSw-tFEdiE

The interesting puppetry here is the sort of synchronised dance they do as the Gypsy tries to hide the ragged horse from close scrutiny. It finishes quite nicely with each puppet looking in different directions. They look around to each other and then rearrange themselves. A nice little detail.
Then there is the hitting where Petrushka hits on either side of the gypsy for a few times then adding a third beat by hitting him on the back. The hitting becomes a little tune with the gypsy dodging the blows and the stick hitting the play board.
The routine with the horse has some of the things you would expect. Trying to get it to stand, trying to get it to stand still, trying to mount it, smelling its bum, going for a ride and falling off.
Again simply done, nicely manipulated and well timed.

And should your preferences remain British here is a similar routine by Clive Chandler. In this case instead of a decrepid horse we have a flat one which is in itself a good gag.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F35CgRJHV6o

I think it's a good puppet to have in one's bag even if it is just to make a show a bit longer when needs be or to vary the show when performing for a day. Richard Coombs and Glyn Edwards also include equestrian events in their shows (from time to time or regularly?). But I think Petrushka's was the only horse in the field this year.
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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Postby Chris » 08 Jun 2009, 21:26

Chris you should have defected when you had the chance. You would have been an important man in Soviet Russia


So what makes you think I wasn't?

Actually if you had read my previous posting about Soviet puppetry you would realise that I would not have had a place there. Both Obratzov (Founder/director of the Moscow State Theatre) and Henryk Ryl told me the same thing. Henryk, Director of the Lodz State Puppet theatre, put it this way:
"Here Mr Chris I call you Maestro, but I could not even employ you in my theatre in Poland."
In his theatre he had a staff of over 30 people, but there would be no place for me. He had puppeteer-actors, puppet-sculptors, puppet scene painters etc. - but they were all specialist components of a team. He could not employ me as a puppet manipulator because I had not been to drama school and been trained to sing and dance. Nor had I the art school qualifications required by his puppet makers, and costumiers and painters.
They just had no concept of the puppeteer as we know him.

The late Anton Anderle from Slovakia told me the same story. He was from a traditional puppeteer family, with marionettes from his father, and grandfather, and scripts passed down orally over the generations. But during the whole of the Soviet era he was condemned to work in an office job. Puppetry was thriving in his country but there was no place for his kind of puppetry, no place for the virtuoso performer only for the co-operative. Somehow over the years he managed to store the puppets and preserve his memories and his skills so that when there came the fall of the Iron Curtain Anton had a few short years of fame on the International Puppet Festival circuit with an absolutely brilliant show - but what a sad waste of such a great part of his life.

As an aside, it is curious that you joked about me defecting. In fact it was the other way round. During the International Puppet Festival held in Colwyn Bay (we were responsible for the first ever to be held in Britain - 1963 and 68) we had a puppeteer couple defect from the Polish State Puppet Theatre. This was in 1963 and had incredible repercussions for the 1968 festival with Roumanians informing on Hungarians, an important delegate being recalled for fraternizing with the capitalists, and the Russian company being stopped by their own government at the eleventh hour.
Last edited by Chris on 08 Jun 2009, 23:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Horsing around

Postby James » 08 Jun 2009, 23:41

CvdC wrote:I think Petrushka's was the only horse in the field this year.


If you'd been down the other end rather than Stoate watching you'd have seen my horse routine Chris.
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Postby johnstoate » 09 Jun 2009, 00:22

Not to mention a rather fine proscenium. But you were right to stay at the quality end, Chris....Why go slumming??[b] :lol: :lol: - That said, I hope you caught young Martin's show, most entertaining. :D
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Postby CvdC » 09 Jun 2009, 00:37

And James have you a new twist on the theme? At what point do you bring the routine into the show? Do you use it as a prelude for the Doctor?
What sort of puppet do you use?
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Postby David Wilde » 10 Jun 2009, 12:57

Chris you ought to watch Geoff's show again, don't think you have caught it have you............................................
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Postby CvdC » 10 Jun 2009, 23:09

Does Geoff have a horse?
I'll have to watch it again.
I was just rereading my reply to James and think maybe it could be interpreted as being snide. Let me just say that was not the case. I really just wanted more information. I genuinely regret missing his show. Last May Fayre was quite crowded and at one point you could not move. So it was easier just to stay put.

For those who are interested the performance of Hector the horse here are two more examples.
Mark Poulton:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4tLqUQ3SFE

And Richard Coombs:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv0ffFxUC5Q

BTW If any performer whose show I have put on youtube to illustrate these points wants it removed please email me and I will take them off.
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Postby Chris » 11 Jun 2009, 12:30

Perhaps it would be better to ask them first? Just a thought. I have learned to my cost just how touchy some Punchmen are about videos being published. Mind you they apparently mind less if it is on YouTube rather than the Punch and Judy website.
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Postby Richard Coombs » 13 Jun 2009, 09:15

Nice clips CvdC. Thanks for sharing.
Agree with Chris S , that it would be nice for them to be on this site too.
But I guess as long as the clips remain on U tube , then an active clickable link from these pages is the next best thing.

I dont mind mine being posted even though one of the others you have put on recently of the start of my show was a bit ropey ... (It was the rainy Mayfayre and it seemed the damp had invaded my head as well as the booth )...there were several technical hitches going on throughout those 2 puppets - my harmonica getting tangled up with me microphone lead - so Joey in particluar is pretty un-animated while I was trying to sort em out, and all I managed to get was a quick sad 'toot' on the mouth organ instead of the full routine.

But dont take the clip off ., that's Life , stuff happens.
I tend to feel that if you are out in the public arena , then you are fair game to be 'seen'.

Its a 50/50 thing , as a performer its annoying when something hasnt gone right that one time - and that is when it happens to be filmed -- but as an observer I like to see any bits of anyones show whatever the conditions ( sometimes it is nice to see even when there obviously were problems : its good to see how other folk deal with real life situations out there too )

All the Best Richard
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Postby Richard Coombs » 13 Jun 2009, 09:18

OOPS ..speaking of technical hitches.... I seem to have hit the button twice and acjhieved a double posting.

Sorry about that ( perhaps Chris will delete the second , and this one , next time he is caretaking the site)


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Postby CvdC » 13 Jun 2009, 10:46

Thanks for the OK Richard. I'll explain what I am doing.
For a start at an event like the May Fayre there are all sorts of cameras. You just can't stop it. Where that footage ends up and in what context you have absolutely no control.
We have seen some terrible misuse of video on youtube.
If you stop the people who you can, reasonable people like me (ie people you can contact), you then leave the field open to the others. Whereas the video I put up is always, I hope, representative of the best. I admit the video of Richard's show is not the best of his work but it is all I have and even so it is still above average.
I will not put up video that is designed to belittle or put the show in some sort of negative light.
So if I have put footage of anyone's video online it should be taken as an accolade. I use to to represent what I consider to be best practice.
But nevertheless will, if asked, take it down.

The other reason I have started putting up the footage I have is so I am not accused of neglecting British Punch in favour of Pulcinella and Petrushka.

I think technologically we are at a point where we can focus on more than the script and the dialogue as we had to until even recently but the action - the puppetry. Which is what I am currrently banging on about. When I see a nice bit of puppetry it sends a shiver down my spine. It reaffirms my genuine love of this show. Something I think all of us who read this share.
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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Postby Chris » 13 Jun 2009, 11:07

Richard - I have deleted your duplicate posting as requested, however, if you put a posting up twice why not delete one of them yourself?
You have editing facilities for anything that you have written yourself. If you look at your displayed posting you will see in top right hand corner the word edit in blue, and alongside this an X also in blue. Click the X to totally delete the posting or click edit to alter or add to or delete from the posting.

You may not be able to edit after someone has already replied to your posting. That is so that someone can't write something controversial and start an argument, and then deny they ever said it by removing their initial posting.
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