The real secret of the swazzle.

Anything relevant

Postby David Wilde » 30 Jan 2008, 00:17

Do you know I can't wait to see these shows you do Tony, I'm almost tempted to ask the pjf to book you for a event, because I'm sure we would be able to get our money back under the trade descriptions act!

I bet nearly every single voice you do sounds exactly the same, apart from Judy which is just a bad impression.

And as for mud under your fingernails, wash your hands after banging your tent pegs into the ground!

You defeat your own argument about audience participation, you're right no one would really want to do a show without it!
But by including it, its not a true presentation of what you are saying that you are performing, that is without going on to the swazzle chapter!

Tony you have put your self in a good position by going to these trade shows where event organizers go to book things for their events.
So as you are probably the only one there you get booked!

Did English Heritage ask you if you used the swazzle? If they did not they had not done their homework! And I thought before signing a contract purporting to perform a genuine show surely you should have told them it wasn't!
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Postby Chris » 30 Jan 2008, 01:35

to John Stoate

I accept your correction that you write Gobbledegook rather than Double Dutch.

If you want your views to be taken seriously John you will have to do people the courtesy of reading what they have written before you start writing your opinions. In that way your views will be relevant to what has gone before.

In this case a chap was asking advice in the context that he was interested in creating an historically accurate repro of a Punch show.

Tony then said he must choose between certain dated eras. One specifically he mentioned was pre 1800. That was what I was challenging.

All the received knowledge is that we don't really have any accurate clues as to what the shows were like until around 1825.

Now you or Tony can conjecture anything you want - but it isn't helpful when someone is wanting to do historical re-enactment.

and really John:
Who is to say that some enterprising medieval serf could not have carved a Punch figure, and delivered a show from behind a sheep hurdle??- It could then have been carried down in oral tradition untill resurrected by some itinerant Italian to great effect a couple of centuries later.


Is that constructive? Are we to deny the scholarship of Anderson, McPharlin, Speaight, Leach, Byron, Stead et al, just because you are too lazy to read them.

There's so much we don't know about Punch, but that is no excuse to throw away all that has been discovered through dedication and research and just rubbish other people's scholarship on a whim. Not if you want to be taken seriously that is.
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Postby Trev » 30 Jan 2008, 08:42

Tony,

I'm intrigued. What kind of material do you present in your georgian shows? Do you use Restoration style sauciness?

I ask because, as many people find when they read or experience historic comedy, it doesn't always bear the passing of time well.

Do you use 'original' material from other sources or do you 'Georgian-ify' your contemporary material?

Sincere question, by the way.
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Postby johnstoate » 30 Jan 2008, 11:57

Steady on Chris, - I was replying specifically to Tony's points, My reference to 'Items & c available at the time being Historically accurate ' was intended as a genuine 'assist' with regard to re-enactments, (In my alter egos of Major John and Nathaniel Stoate I have served his majesty King George on many occasions, and found it a very usefull ploy)
In answer to your comment about my denying the 'scholarship' of others, Au contraire, - I have read a great deal of the available material, I have also read Tolkein, but that is not to say that I totally believe in the existence of 'Middle Earth' and the 'Shires' :) Unfortunately a lot of the 'source' material for our historical knowledge is at least in part based on commercial writings. Most of it would probably be dismissed as 'hearsay' if presented as evidence in a court of law, and yet some of us accept it without reservation. I intend no disrespect to those who have spent so much time in research and study, without their efforts we could not be where we are today, I just feel that we should still keep an open mind, after all, many of the chroniclers were not themselves performers, I hope therefore, that we who are, can consider the diferrence in perspective from inside the booth!
As to my end comment, although flippant it was still in a way constructive. As you said yourself in reply, "All the received knowledge is that we don't really have any accurate clues as to what the shows were like untill around 1825." - Sorry Chris, but that seems to me that you are rubbishing my conjecture on a possible origin of the Show on a personal whim!
Finally, my references to 'market forces' were also intended constructively. By understanding what makes the show progress, ie; social change and opinion One can reverse the process to aquire an insight as to what would have been likely in an earlier time, since the social & economic changes in our society tend to be better documented.

Addenda; I didn't specify a location for my imaginary serf!
Last edited by johnstoate on 30 Jan 2008, 15:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Tony James » 30 Jan 2008, 12:11

Dear David

Your are always good value for comic effect but usually more easily comprehensible than in this post. What exactly are you trying to say?

I thought from previous posts you had seen my show somewhere but evidently not, otherwise you would have been aware of the range of voices introduced during the four different performances which I offer daily on showgrounds.

After all these years I suspect if there was dissatisfaction with my my show of the sort you imply, event organisers would have expressed it by not re-booking. I provide what I advertise and my show pulls big crowds and it is noted for holding them, right to the end. It looks the business and it does the business.

I have never claimed to offer a "genuine" show nor an "authentic" show as I doubt there would ever be sufficient agreement on what those terms mean when applied to a Punch & Judy Show. I offer a "Traditional" show and whilst there may be a range of views on what that term might encompass, it is a preferred term of the promotional industry conveying a sense of the genre rather than a series of specifics.

It does what it sets out to do: entertains tens of thousands of people of every age throughout the United Kingdom and has done, year in and year out for a long time.

Do come and see me anytime. Then you'll be better able to appreciate how to present Punch & Judy successfully.
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Postby Chris » 30 Jan 2008, 13:48

John, you miss the point completely. Just because we have a blank spot in our knowledge of Punch Glove Puppet Show before 1825 or so does not mean that we haven't a great deal of knowledge of Punch's arrival as a Marionette and the plays he was in, and of his decline in that form and resurrection as a glove puppet. We also have a great deal of information about his birth in Naples, his spread through Italy and France, his becoming a puppet, his spread to Russia. We have documentary and pictorial evidence galore.
Should we cast all this aside as nonsense? We would have to do just that to consider the possibility of your conjecture. The fact that you don't realise this shows that you just don't know your history.

By all means conjecture - but conjecture on the basis of what is known, and in that way try to hypothesize what is still to be discovered.
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old swazzles

Postby Trev » 30 Jan 2008, 14:26

Chris,

as this thread was originally about swazzles I'll try to get back to it a little.

As I've not read the greater body of literature I'm curious as to whether anyone has any idea what kind of swazzles the old-time performers used.

I know some places (Russia and Italy) use wooden calls and others use pieces of bone. However, I am curious as to how the Punch-style swazzle developed. Was it originally made with material, reeds, or what?

As the old-time Punchmen were secretive about it I'd be surprised to find any written documentation on it. That said, Mayhew's Punchman does show the different ones he uses and sells, doesn't he?

I recently met an Italian Pulcinella performer who showed me his swazzles. I said that they looked identical to Punch ones (no idea what I thought they'd look like) and he said they were. As the masters in Italy were very guarded about the calls they use, and wouldn't show him how to make one, he went to a Dan Bishop workshop and learned how to make them there.
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Postby Chris » 30 Jan 2008, 15:18

The Punch Show swazzle isn't very old - although swazzle type implements and puppets are of great antiquity. But our present swazzle is only as old as our Punch Show, and I've no reason to think that it has changed all that much. And as for the secrecy - well that's something that we love to stress - but since Victorian times Punch profs have made a bit on the side by selling the secret of the swazzle. There's one of our own ranks doing it currently, regularly on EBay. And in my collection I have an example of a Victorian one, made in tinplate, and with copies of the invoices showing that he was selling them wholesale. These were rather large and could easily cut the mouth in use. I am pretty sure they were made so deliberately.

There are also examples of Punchmen's publicity literature advertising their show and offering to sell the secret of Punch's voice.
But the illustrations and instructions I've seen in Victorian books all suggest the swazzle being very similar to the metal ones we use today. I have seen one where wood was suggested - but the shape shown was the same. I rather think that this was from the pen of someone who had no first hand experience of the swazzle but had been told about it.

But there is a fascinating research topic for someone there. Apart from the pivetta, and the siffle-pratique there are also similar instruments in the Far East. Perhaps someone looking for another way to screw money from the grant providing bodies could set up a project and go swazzle-hunting around the World.

I would expect 10% for the suggestion.
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fascinating

Postby Trev » 30 Jan 2008, 16:06

Thanks Chris, that's very interesting.

Oooh, now, how can I fit that thesis in with some aspect of fertility rites? :wink:
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