Good morning Camp Doll Diaries Campers!! This week we are going to take a virtual trip around the world with all our camp fun being focused on different crafts and activities from different countries. We are going to have a great week!
We are starting off with a special guest post from our dear friend Maxine of My Doll Best Friend in the UK with some history on and how to create your own version of the classic British puppet show – Punch and Judy.
If you are holidaying in Britain during the Summertime you’ll definitely come across Punch and Judy shows. Although they originated in Italy they’ve been in Great Britain for more than 350 years and are now considered quintessentially British. Children and adults can’t help being engaged by Punch & Judy shows at traditional seaside resorts and country fairs; they crowd around and roar with laughter, often shouting out helpful warnings to the characters in Punch’s sights!
The first show in Britain was recorded at Covent Garden in London in 1662 and was entertainment for the working class person in which he could see someone like himself get his own back on the law! Punch would commit a
series of ludicrous and hilarious ‘crimes’ only to triumph over the law and the supernatural. It must have been an incredibly oppressive period in history for the working class as their desire was so great to triumph over
the law even if only in silly entertainment. Not only that but religion played a large part in the lives of people and ghosts and spirits were feared. Mr Punch could challenge them and win!
Punch & Judy features Mr Punch and his wife, Judy. The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, not really a story more a succession of encounters each depicting an interaction between usually two characters, most typically the menacing Punch and one other character. The show is performed by a single pupeteer inside the booth.
The characters in the Punch & Judy shows are:
Historically, Mr Punch wears a jester’s hat and he’s a hunchback whose hooked nose almost meets his curved, jutting chin. He carries a stick (called a slapstick) as large as himself, which he freely uses upon most of the other characters in the show.
Whilst there is no actual script there is a format which typically involves Mr. Punch arriving on the set followed by Judy. They may well kiss and dance before Judy requests Mr. Punch to look after the baby. Punch will fail to carry this task out appropriately. He might “babysit”, by sitting on the baby for example. In any event Judy will return, will be outraged, will fetch a stick and the knockabout will commence. A policeman will arrive in response to the mayhem and will himself be knocked down by Punch’s slapstick. All this is carried out at a fast and farcical speed with much involvement from a gleefully shouting audience. It will be interspersed with jokes and songs and at the end Punch will be triumph. The audience is encouraged to participate, calling out to the characters on the stage to warn them of the danger of what’s going on behind their backs.
Times have changed and last year a new Rebooted Punch & Judy was launched in the UK to reflect new times and to celebrate the 350th anniversary year.
You can make a story of your own, keeping the essential historical characters for your Punch & Judy show. In ours, Punch doesn’t have a slapstick, he has maracas with a smilely face to shake when he’s menacing!
The theatre was made from a doll box which was covered in traditional red and white stripy fabric. The back of the box was only partially cut away so that a background could be attached and so the puppeteer could fit inside and close the ‘door’.
Felt, ribbons, card and gold wrapping paper with an ornate motif were stuck around the theatre stage for decoration. Some sewing ribbons and fringing came in useful for decoration. The theatre background is simply sky and green hills made from cardboard.
We made Mr Punch from cardboard and stuck a felt hat on his head and gave him a scarf from a scrap of knitting. He holds the maracas to carry out his bad behaviour!
The crocodile was made from green cardboard with a red felt mouth and white jagged cardboard teeth, his eye is yellow and black felt. Both puppets are extended by stiff cardboard so that they can be moved across
the stage. Puppets that are decorated on both sides would give most scope for stories.
We’ve added bunting for that British Summertime feel and boxes for the audience to sit on to keep the adults happy. The children
are happy lay about on the grass.
The girls had so much fun watching Punch & Judy in the sunshine, in the lawns of Queen Victoria’s Osborne House on the sunny Isle of Wight.
They were mesmerised by the colourful show and loved shouting out ‘look out Mr Punch, there’s a crocodile!’ and such things!
You can see a little scene from the show where Mr Punch is making the crocodile run away with the din by noisily shaking his maracas at him!!
What is the little trouble maker Mr Punch going to get up to in your story?