Slapstick

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Slapstick

Postby Priscilla » 23 May 2007, 18:48

As I build my puppets, I'm wondering how to do Punch's stick. I've seen some attached permanently to Punch, but then Judy can't grab it and hit him back. I experimented with making a slapstick, but I don't see how I can get enough force using my thumb and middle finger to make it really slap.

Any advice?

Thanks.
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Postby Chris » 23 May 2007, 19:15

Forgive me asking Priscilla, but have you ever seen a Punch and Judy Show?
I ask this because if you had seen a slapstick in use you surely wouldn't ask your question.

As far as attaching the stick to Punch's hand, well I have never ever seen that except in children's toys. If you had seen a Punch Show surely you would realise that the stick is frequently picked up and put down, grabbed by other characters, swallowed by the crocodile etc.

And when you say I experimented with making a slapstick, but I don't see how I can get enough force using my thumb and middle finger to make it really slap. I again wonder if you have seen a slapstick it use. You don't use any force. The whole purpose of the slapstick is to make a big noise with the minimum of force. Simply pick up the stick, tap another puppet on its wooden head, and because of the castanet construction of the slapstick it gives a nice sharp crack. However since the blow is delivered by your full hand, its a wrist movement, you could use as much force as you wanted. I don't actually see your problem.

Why not get a video of a Punch and Judy show and you'll have a better idea.




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Postby Priscilla » 23 May 2007, 19:32

Yes, I've seen shows, but not since I was small. They're not so common where I live. I've looked at some video clips online. I was pretty sure that the Punches with attached sticks weren't meant for real shows. Maybe I need to ask this question differently:

How do I make a slapstick? Specifics, please?

Thanks!
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Postby Professor Eek » 23 May 2007, 19:43

Oooh that Chris is a one ain't 'ee

Priscilla

Imagine two giant lollipop sticks joined in the middle with a thin piece of wood about the same thickness but much shorter in length.

It doesn't matter which end you hold it as the other end will have two loose pieces of wood which should make a noise when banged against something. This stick can then be passed from character to character and they will always be holding a stick which can slap.

I hope that sort of makes sense.
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Postby johnstoate » 23 May 2007, 19:58

Err, yes Eek, clear as mud, -ish but I think I understand what you mean, I've sent some (I hope) clearer construction detail on the P.M. board, hope it helps Priscilla.
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Postby Priscilla » 23 May 2007, 20:15

Excellent replies, thanks! I did realize that a slapstick is two pieces of wood, just needed John's instructions on how to make one. I think my problem was in the hinge, which was too stiff.

I'm quite enjoying the process--you're right, John, that Punch and Judy is not like other shows. I'm trying to be respectful of the tradition, but most likely will not have a strictly traditional show. Still, there's something about having a form within which to play that brings out some great, quirky stuff.

Thanks for the links to the video clips, Trev. I'd missed some of those.

As I mentioned in my first post to this board (the one on swazzle hygiene, anyone got a good solution?), I'm a full-time storyteller and puppeteer. I'm merely playing with Punch and Judy (yes, like playing with matches) at this point, as much for my own entertainment as anything else. We'll see how far it goes. I'm in it all for the fun.


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Postby Chris » 23 May 2007, 23:12

If the instructions John sent involve a hinge then it isn't a slapstick as we know it.
Eek's description of a double ender was clear enough. Here's a picture:<br>
<img src="../images/slapstick.gif"><br>
or instead of plywood use hardwood strip of similar size.






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Postby Priscilla » 23 May 2007, 23:23

More info--great! I'm glad to have this picture, as I find it difficult to visualize just reading the descriptions. That's why I had to buy a swazzle, then make my own when I could understand what it looked like.

That's the way to do it! Root-i-toot-toot! (My mother remembered a more lyrical "rip-it-i-tip" most likely not swazzled.)

More questions will most likely follow. Thanks.

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Postby billywand » 24 May 2007, 01:23

Hi Pricilla,

Welcome to the wierd and wonderfull world of Punch.

I think the American Punch show may differ a little to the British show, but there is one book I would whole heatedly reccomend to any one starting Punch. It covers probably the most important thing, understanding the nature of the show, as well as performance, scripting, making puppets, props and theatre, as well as swazzling. In fact all you need to know about the modern Punch show. The name of the book...... not telllin' you......only kidding it is "Successful Punch and Judy" by Prof Glyn Edwards. Available from Ray DaSilva Puppet Books.

Lots of good advice re swazzle hygene. I keep mine in a little cloth drawstring bag, which a rather posh watch came in. Every now and then I rinse it in whiskey. Each to thier own!!

As far as slapsticks go, also lots of good advice. Chris's drawing shows the best type, a "double ender". While one character holds it he can slap the other, then when that character grabs it from him he can slap the first using the hitting end as a handle....you know what I mean !!

I am working on some magic props in my workshop at the moment, so as a gift from one side of the pond to the orher I will make you one and send it on.
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Postby Priscilla » 24 May 2007, 03:15

Thanks! I've been gathering (and reading) books on the topic, but didn't have this one. I'd read excellent reviews of it. I'll order a copy. Any other "must reads"?

Time to finish building the puppets. My attention is a little split at the moment, as I'm working on a Medieval French story for adults at the same time and in early June I start my summer storytelling in libraries--about 60 shows in two months.

I've got a topic for another thread--maybe I'll bring it up tomorrow.

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Postby CvdC » 24 May 2007, 18:11

I was looking at the slapstick illustrated above and thinking that the portion of the stick with the gap between the two pieces could be longer. If it is too short the pieces may not slap together too loudly, if at all. It is hard to explain but a necessary consideration. These days I am constantly minding the gap.
I have two sticks, one that is double ended for fighting and one for Punch's exclusive use. You can also have another which is larger for one-up-manship. But this may be a male thing. :wink:
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Postby Professor Eek » 24 May 2007, 21:07

... and sometimes the policeman has a truncheon and Judy has a frying pan.

But apart from all these, and the other variations, it's quite simple really
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Postby Chris » 24 May 2007, 22:25

Chris, I assure you I put those measurements on because they work, and have worked for many people over many years.

As for your make thing - it may well be larger. I wouldn't know. I was talking about slapsticks.



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Postby billywand » 25 May 2007, 01:47

Please can we be a little bit realistic about this. everybodys figures are different, everrybodys handeling is different, so the size of everybodys slapstick is different. Don't let size over content confuse you.

Pricilla you know what they look like, I'll send you one, you know how they work, problem solved !!!!!
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Postby Tony James » 25 May 2007, 08:14

When cutting out of a piece of three ply you have two choices. Do you cut with the outer grain or across it?

You see the inner ply is at right angles to the two outer plys and that has an effect on strength.

Cut ACROSS the outer grain and the result is a strong stick.

Cut with the outer grain and because the inner ply has the grain running across the stick it will soon weaken and snap across. The two outer plys are actually quite thin so the strength is provided by the inner ply.

Ideally, you should use birch ply which, thickness for thickness, will produce 5 or more plys. That is a much stronger construction and then the differences don't really matter though strictly speaking with 5 ply cutting with the outer grain will produce a slightly stronger stick.

But in the UK birch ply is very difficult to buy in small pieces. Things may be different in Canada and the USA.
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