A "Genius" in my Booth.

Anything relevant

A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Richard Coombs » 16 Jul 2013, 10:47

...And NO - it is not me !

Just spent a really nice weekend at the Wolverhampton Show .
Michael Dixon from the Puppet Guild organises it , and has managed to get the Council to give us a big Marquee to perform in . Last year this was shelter from the rain , despite the mud bath under our feet , and this Year it provided some respite from the punishing Sun.

I have ben lucky enough to be on the Bill inside the "Big Puppet Tent" every year so far , along side of Michaels excellent Puppet Exhibition , Jim Morriss' puppet making Craft -Table and Ted Beresford and his Jig Dolls / Table Top show .
The other Act in the line up has been changed every year for Variety ...we have had Peter Charltons St George booth show and different marionette acts ...and this year it was none other than this boards very own Chris Sommerville doing his own unique mix of Magic and Marionettes .

All a great success and a highly enjoyable couple of days. But I digress .

Chris pointed out to me that in other threads here I have been referring to the "Drop Bag" in my Booth as a "Savante Bag" ...and he pointed out that this would translate as "Genius" Bag and that what I probably meant ( and my awful spelling got wrong) was Servante Bag.

A "Servante" is a hidden shelf on the back of a Magicians table , a place to secretly palm things from , and 'drop unwanted things onto'.

The fact that so many Punchfolk also do Magic might have created the term "Servante Bag" for the cloth bag that many have in their booths to drop puppets into quickly once they have performed their part in the show , rather than hanging them up again ( or dropping them on the floor !)


But this set me thinking ...where had I acquired this term from ??

I am not a Magician , and never really knew any growing up. And yet that drop bag ( which I had even in my first booth as a kid ) has always been a 'Servante' ...although in my head spelled "Savante'.

I must have learned it from somewhere , as I wouldn't have known the phrase to make it up.
.....................................

So in order to initiate some "Chat" here , I pose the Question ...how has the Term "Servante Bag" entered Punch linguistics ?...aside from its Magic Shelf derivation : who has popularised its usage ?

Is there a particular recent Proff ( alive or dead) who used the term?

Does one of the "How To" type Books use it ? ( Fraser / Edwards etc)

And do any of you guys call yours that ..assuming you are not one of the 'throw 'em on the floor ' brigade :-)

I ask to satisfy my own curiosity.



And having spent two and a half days ( yep !! ) making a new Drop Bag for my heights booth with pockets for some props , loops to support my 'Long neck-Stick', slots for slapsticks , a divided compartment for my stunt punch on his sausages , a pocket for the fake punch legs , and shaped slots for the spinning Plates , plus of course a big section for dropping puppets into .......I think I might just continue to think of it as a "SAVANTE"


This pic wont do it justice ..it will need to be seen fitted into the Heights booth to see all the internal gubbins ...so more pics next week.

Image


Best to all


Richard
Last edited by Richard Coombs on 01 Feb 2015, 10:46, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 862
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Chris » 20 Jul 2013, 21:01

I think this use of the term must be relatively new. As Richard says, the term servante is used by magicians and is applied to a padded shelf at the back of, and slightly below the a table top. It is used for secretly obraining and dumping small objects. Although the French for servant, this usage appears to be of English origin and seems to first appear in the works of Professor Hoffman. The French Robert Houdin doesn't use the term, although he does describe a bag used for the same purpose, the gibeciere (literally a "game bag"). This was originally worn round the magician's waist (you can still see Covent Garden busking magicians using this when performing the cups and balls) and later it was attached to the back of a table - and it evolved into a shelf which was given the term servante.

I can't find any record of the term servante being applied to a Punch man's dump bag. But it seems reasonable to guess that some puppeteer who was also a magician applied the word to a shelf below the playboard of a glove puppet theatre.

I rather think this has probably come from the general puppet tradition rather than specifically from a Punch prof. The reason I think this is that below playboard shelves are in common use in glove puppet fit-ups, whereas they are not a traditional part of the Punch equipment. The old boys used to hang their dolls along the front and sides of the fit-up, on a string tied between the uprights. Instead of curtain rings on the costume hems they used hooks. I think the shelf probably came in when they changed from hooks on rope to curtain rings and cup hooks (probably mid 1950s). Certainly the two De Hempsey books (1950-53) detail the hook on cord method. The along came George Blake's Lazy Tongs design for a booth, and Edwin's booklet illustrating a version of this and it is Edwin who suggests curtain rings on the puppet costumes, and square hooks on a bar across the front. Edwin also mentions "a large square of cloth has a shoe lace tied at each corner. This is tied to the ends of the puppet bar by two of the strings. The other two strings are tied forward a little to the trellis work at the sides of the fit-up. This gives you a large open-mouthed bag running the full length of the fit-up into which you can drop the various properties and puppets as you have finished with them."
Now while Edwin never mentions the term servante, remember he was a Magical dealer and therefore being read mainly by magicians who wished to add Punch to their repertoire. It is not unreasonable that one of them, a puppeteer-magician, would substitute a glove puppet shelf for the bag, and screw the hooks to the shelf, and call it by a name familiar from his magic reading.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Chris » 20 Jul 2013, 21:15

By the way Richard, the older term gibeciere (game bag) isn't inappropriate, but the even older term was sac al la malice which is lovely for Punch, meaning, as it does, Bag of Mischief. So you could call them your mischief bags?
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby johnstoate » 20 Jul 2013, 23:11

[i][/i]Mmmmm... Interesting.... I've always known it as a 'Savante' bag as well, but actually challenged to say from where ??? - I'm baffled!¬ Just one of those wierd Punch-related things that happen, I suppose - There are a lot of them. People, (Or at least[i] some[/i] people) will continue to deny it, (Many of them so-called 'Practitioners of magic') - But to have survived this long, there is something about Punch that belongs in the realms of the ephemoral. 'True' Magic in it's original sense is powered by belief, (And no, I am NOT referring to slight-of -hand, or 'Stage' magic, but the 'Original' form!) Possibly, in our Oh, so modern world, Punch has found some way to touch the fundementals of being, and therefore tap into it's power of immortality! - It is a strange thing that can fire the imagination & enthusiasum of Today's youth with a three hundred year old amusement, and still retain the homage of pensioners!!!! - Just before you all start, Consider this, IF there is no credence to this arguement, and IFThere is no magic in our modern world..... Define, to Punch, in His day, JUST HOW YOU ARE READING THIS!!!!
John
Weaselly distinguished, Stoatelly different!!
User avatar
johnstoate
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 821
Joined: 26 Mar 2007, 15:07
Location: Lancashire

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Richard Coombs » 21 Jul 2013, 00:44

Thanks for all that extra detailed information Chris ( I know you and I had discussed this topic a bit during our time at the Wolverhampton Show ) ...but as always you are able to find the quotes to back up your knowledge.

I hope others find this an interesting thread.

Thanks too to John ...although I am not entirely sure I understood all of it , I do take from it the understanding that you too have used the term "Savante" .

Performers and makers of my generation have been greatly influenced by Peter Frasers Punch and Judy Book ...particularly the illustrations.

My first ever booth was not 'Lazy tongs' , but rather the type shown in Peter Frasers book , complete with all the Bolts and Wing-Nuts and TWO shelves.

Mr Fraser has both a Playboard Shelf and a Lower shelf inside the booth for props ( a bell was on it if I remember the picture rightly ) and his booth also had a sling of fabric to drop puppets into.


Every Booth I have built since has always had these two shelves and a Drop Bag.

My preference is for the front of the drop bag to be set in from the front of the booth ( ie: nearer to me so my tummy presses against its nearest edge )

The edge furthest away sits below the lower shelf and just a couple of inches back from it.

In my Regular booths ..puppet hooks are on a bar that forms that back part of the Bag.

In My Heights of Abraham booth booth , the hooks are on the props shelf .

Either way the effect is the same , in that the puppets hanging across the front of the Booth all hang inside the Savante Bag with their backs touching the cloth of the Bag.


I never saw the inside of anyone else's booth until many years after doing Punch myself.

I think with all these things , what you start with stays with you for life . And so yes , Peter Frasers book was a big influence on me.

Sadly I do not have a copy.



Although Chris' answer has all the facts nailed down , I am still keen to hear from other folk as to what they call their drop bags , and why.

It was good to learn Mr Stoat shares my oddity in this matter.

Best

Richard
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 862
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Richard Coombs » 21 Jul 2013, 01:06

I have just realised I do in fact have a copy of the Fraser book ..it was reprinted in a spiral bound form by Ray Da Silva a few years back .


But after a very quick internet search I have just secured a fairly inexpensive second had copy in hardback

Image
...having this in my hands will take me right back to childhood and the Library in Herne Bay. There were a couple of years when that book was on permanent loan to me ..I would take it back and get it stamped out again , and again.

I also found the picture in question , so post it to illustrate the two shelf and sling booth:
Image


That sling was useless ..puppets just fell out of it . And aged eleven I made my own version , a square bag that had sling type sides and fitted into the booth in a similar way.
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 862
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Chris » 21 Jul 2013, 10:01

Regarding that fabric sling Richard, which I agree appears useless, well this reminds me of something I was going to mention when discussing hooks over cord and curtain rings and cup hooks, then omitted as possibly confusing the issue. Nevertheless I think it interesting. The great Percy Press (the first) didn't use hooks, rings or anything on his puppets. He simply layed them in order on a fabric sling which ran across the booth. As I remember it (and I only saw it once and that was 50 years ago) it was nowhere near as slack as the Frazer illustration and was probably a bit wider, and could possibly have had edges making it a very shallow bag. Percy claimed he could never get on with hanging puppets and found it much easier to get them on and off if they were just flat on the sling in front of him. I haven't heard of any other Punch man working this way. I wonder if Percy II or Leslie ever worked that way? To my mind I would have thought it more difficult and would slow down the changes, but one of the things that marked Percy's show was the speed.
On a similar note, one of the shows to first inspire me was that of Ernest Radford (a children's entertainer who worked as Mr. E. in the West Yorkshire area.) I've mentioned him before as a performer who worked from behind an upright piano with a Union Jack decorated top as a playboard.He was another who didn't hang his puppets for access but used to lay his puppets out on a card table alongside him.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Richard Coombs » 21 Jul 2013, 12:31

Ooh ..interesting stuff .

I cant imagine working with puppets laid out flat.
I started with hooks in the Booth.

The main reason -Peter Fraser again -

Like so much of his stuff , you wonder if he he actually tried it out , or only drew it .
One of the things that would seem to give this away the most is his drawing of Punches stick as a solid length of dowel rather than a slapstick ...this one thing alone points to a man who is an artist rather than a performer.

His Booth , as drawn is so flimsy it is almost unusable even with light puppets , and it actually needs some bracing on the top section .
Aged 10 or 11 ,my solution was to run some support bars round just above the aluminium midway join ( again fixed on with wing nuts and bolts )

These became logical places to screw in cup hooks to hang the puppets , consequently my puppets always had loops not hooks at the base of their costume.

Most things come down to practicality in the end.

And although I can understand that hooks on the puppets and string / wire in the booth lets you hang puppets anywhere ...or slide them along, I realised early on that hooks on the puppets can also catch /snag on other things.

I guess I just preferred the (now) standard method.

But again , it would be interesting to hear from any Proffs who do work with hooks on the Puppets.

( Actually it would just be good to hear from some other Proffs ...its gone a little quiet on here of late )

Best

Richard
Last edited by Richard Coombs on 22 Jul 2013, 08:16, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 862
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Chris » 21 Jul 2013, 21:31

I remember being told "Those who can, do, those who can't, teach. Those who can't do either write a book about it."
Actually I believe Peter Frazer was a teacher. I suspect that his drawing ability is far more developed than his experience with puppets. I think this because as well as his Punch book he wrote and illustrated a delightful book on marionettes, Puppet Circus. His drawingings probably inspired many, although his stringing instructions indicated that his acts were to a large extent pipe dreams.
It is perhaps significant that neither book contains a single photograph of a puppet.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Harvey » 22 Jul 2013, 09:17

I call my 'drop bag' a 'dump bag' yes I do laugh.
when I throw the baby judy or the policeman off the playboard they always miss and land behind me or on my lap or even out the booth (has happened once) anyway not going to be using the lighter puppets soon, hopefully moving to wood, it will take a lot of getting used to I have used the puppets I use today for over a year but they have been used for longer than that and they are falling apart. Mr Punch's hat has fallen off judy and joeys hair is starting to fall off (even though I have glued it many of times)
my crocodile is fine (because he is new).

any way going off topic with my new booth making my new dump bag I have put a bit if tarpaulin (can't spell it word does not work on my computer at the mo)

I have put blue tac on the sides of the tarpaulin so when it rains i can cover it up so any puppets in there don't get wet.
The Young Professor http://www.professor-harvo.xbuild.com at the age of 18
User avatar
Harvey
Thick Link
Thick Link
 
Posts: 177
Joined: 12 Dec 2012, 10:21
Location: Titchfield Common PO144NA

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Richard Coombs » 31 Jul 2013, 21:21

Up and running at Heights .....and Savante Bag ...Sack of Mischief...call it what you will : all working nicely.


Image



Image
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 862
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Richard Coombs » 31 Jul 2013, 22:04

Heights have been busy since last year , and have covered over a 5 meter by 5 meter area of the audience with a huge canopy.
Image

Image

This does two jobs ..keeping off light rain or drizzle ( I can still perform Ok through this , and the crowds are very resilient there and will sit through a light dampening )...and it also acts as a parasol , keeping off the very hot sun.

Luckily we have had more need of it as a Parasol rather than an Umbrella so far :-)

They also built a level hard standing especially for the Booth.
Image
It all works very well , and means that far more people can cram into the Piazza and see the Show .
Hope everyone is having a great Summer Season.

Best Wishes

Richard
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 862
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Nick Jackson » 01 Aug 2013, 01:42

I've never had a dump bag. My trunk is to the left of me and each of the dolls goes straight in. This is totally to do with the man I learned from – if you ever opened his trunk, you'd find the dolls in reverse order of appearance with Punch and the coffin on the top!

This has all brought back a wonderful memory of an old showman who handed the key to his show to an eight-year-old me one day and said, "Go on, Nicky. You can hang the dolls for me." He later congratulated me as I had each and every one (he had 17 in total!) in the right order to left and right.
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 377
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Richard Coombs » 30 Jan 2015, 22:17

It is end of Jan 2015 now ...and this is an old thread:
But looking up CvdCs old posts , got me opening up my own file of posts out of curiosity.

This one jumped out.

And just to reply to Nick Jacksons last entry .....

Wow Nick you were VERY lucky aged 8 to be let into a showman's booth ( well done on getting all the puppet hung right )
I think I was 9 or 10 when after many summers of pestering , I was finally allowed a peak inside Peter Buchards booth at Broadstairs.

Image

I have said on here before , I don't think he spotted any kind of young talent or aptitude for Punch in me, I just hunk he wanted an end to me keep on asking !

But he will never know just how those three or four minutes have stayed etched on my memory.

Lucky you Nick to have ben allowed to handle and hang up the puppets !

Best Richard
Last edited by Richard Coombs on 30 Jan 2015, 22:17, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 862
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Re: A "Genius" in my Booth.

Postby Richard Coombs » 30 Jan 2015, 22:17

It is end of Jan 2015 now ...and this is an old thread:
But ;ooking up CvdCs old posts , got me opening up my own file of posts out of curiosity.

This one jumped out.

And just to reply to Nick Jacksons last entry .....

Wow Nick you were VERY lucky aged 8 to be let into a showman's booth ( well done on getting all the puppet hung right )
I think I was 9 or 10 when after many summers of pestering , I was finally allowed a peak inside Peter Buchards booth at Broadstairs.

Image

I have said on here before , I don't think he spotted any kind of young talent or aptitude for Punch in me, I just hunk he wanted an end to me keep on asking !

But he will never know just how those three or four minutes have stayed etched on my memory.

Lucky you Nick to have ben allowed to handle and hang up the puppets !

Best Richard
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 862
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Next

Return to Punch Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests