The Sun Shone on MAY FAYRE 2015

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The Sun Shone on MAY FAYRE 2015

Postby Chris » 11 May 2015, 21:50

It was a great day, one of the nicest May Fayres I think. And the Sun certainly shone. One suspects some political demarkation was afoot for the right hand lawn of ST Pauls was jam packed with booths facing each other with scarcely room between for a decent sized audience, while on the left hand lawn were perhaps only a dozen booths - so big audiences could spread out in comfort, and believe me there were some very big audiences. All day long it felt very busy but never unpleasantly crowded.The same could not be said for the other lawn where it was difficult to move around. Luckily most of the shows I enjoy seeing over and over again were on the more selective lawn.


A very interesting visitor performer, a guest of Geoff Felix, was a Guinol performer from France. Guinol is not quite the french equivalent of Punch. France of course does have a national puppet character derived from the Comedia del'arte, but that is Polichinelle who is, in appearance at least, recognisably similar to Mr. Punch.
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Guignol, by contrast, is an invented (as opposed to evolved) puppet hero. He was originally only to be found in Lyons where he was created. He is a weaver from that area, his side-kick Gnafron is a cobbler. Guignol, created by Laurent Mourguet, a tooth-puller, about 1797, in an attempt to attract clients for his dentistry via a puppet show. Guignol shows are more verbally witty than Punch and do not have the same slapstick and sausages approach to entertainment as Punch. Nevertheless Guignol has been extremely successful, in many ways outstripping Polichinelle in influence. And this influence is by no means limited to Lyons. Indeed throughout France the word Guignol has almost become the common word mean "glove puppet" just as people in Britain tend to use the term Punch and Judy to cover all hand puppet shows performed in a booth. And just as Punch & Judy and Slapstick have acquired a meaning beyond the area of puppetry so too with Guiniol. In theatrical terms, for example, we have the category of "Grand Guignol" which has nothing to do with a children's puppet show and more to do with Gothic Horror and beyond.
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There were also the twin booths of father and son Punch profs, Tony and Chris Druitt (spelling?), Tony's booth has a wonderful proscenium, which I covet, which even managed to hold its own alongside its "mine's bigger than yours" neighbour. It was next to David Wilde's enormous Roselia pros - a glorious bit of history. This was it's first outing in very many years and David christened it by performing with some characters based of the Roselia figures.These were commisioned by David from Geoff Felix who is known for his superb puppet making.

Come to think of it, I didn't see a single poor performance during the whole day. I did see two very good shows from junior profs Tommy and Joe. I too started doing Punch at an early age, but I was nowhere near as good as either of them at their age.

At the end of the day a great gang of us (well twenty perhaps) decended on the main Dining Room, The Carvery, of The Strand Palace Hotel for a celebratory meal.A brilliant meal and an hilarious cabaret provided by a Punchman icon, known to tell the occasional joke, who although reluctant was persuaded, despite his natural reticence, to perform and was very funny indeed.
It's good to squawk!
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Re: The Sun Shone on MAY FAYRE 2015

Postby James » 13 May 2015, 14:26

It was a great day, thoroughly enjoyed it, and I saw some great shows too!

There's an excellent gallery of (442!!) photos of the day from Sid Williams on Flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/16025290@N07/sets/72157650315469334
Arnott's Gowns for Clowns, Est 1985
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Re: The Sun Shone on MAY FAYRE 2015

Postby Dan » 17 May 2015, 15:51

Here's a taster of the May Fayre 2015. Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/ezhgkuJRUTk
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Re: The Sun Shone on MAY FAYRE 2015

Postby Chris » 17 May 2015, 18:55

What a super bit of filming and superbly and wittily edited. Thanks Dan.
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Re: The Sun Shone on MAY FAYRE 2015

Postby geoff.london » 21 May 2015, 16:36

What a lovely bit of filming. Well Done!
Yes indeed, it was a great day and although Maggie didn't get 40 booths, she got at least 40 punch men and women in attendance, together with a lovely cake made for her by the 'Food Chain'. This organization also provided the food for the performers throughout the day and they especially wanted to acknowledge Maggie's hard work, and the work of her team.
One small thing, the puppets I made for David were meant to be copies of the Roselia figures, not the Collier/Cruikshank ones. But maybe that was my fault for not getting a sufficient likeness - look at the pictures and judge for yourselves!
Chris did well to highlight the Guignol performer Damien Weiss. He is officially the 'Premier Ouvrier de France' which is a great honor, the French equivalent of the O.B.E. and it is awarded to just one person every three years. A look at his puppets tells you why he got the award. I was delighted that he chose the Mayfayre to make his debut as a solo performer.
Although I had the band playing through some of my first performance, I felt that this was one of the best May Fayres. Thank you again Maggie for making this happen...and here's to the next 40! Geoff.
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Re: The Sun Shone on MAY FAYRE 2015

Postby Chris » 21 May 2015, 20:48

Sorry Geoff, a slip of the brain I assume. Why I said Cruikshank I know not, since I prefaced it with mention of christening the Roselia pros. Mind you, at my age I am allowed the odd idiocy.
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