LIFE IMITATES BLOG?
Here's what I wrote, April 13th, 2006:
"It fills me with shivers of delight to reflect on how marvelous the whole Ren Faire scene is. I would like to be a part of that scene as a performer, but it occurs to me like any other venue, it helps to have at least a toe in the the scene. In other words, I don't know how likely it is a long-established Ren Faire is going to book "Sir Andrew and his Marvelous Punch and Judy Extravaganza!" for its worldwide debut."Never say never, right?
I've been approached to put together a traditional Punch and Judy show for inclusion in a program that brings culture to school children. The same program has more than a toe-hold in the Ren Faire circuit, so there you go. Right now, I'm learning all I can about Punch and Judy, which is pushing my "info-gorge" on pirates to a back burner. (Remind me sometime to tell you about my Pirate idea.)
Punch and Judy-style puppetry is completely different from the "muppet" style we're all used to. It doesn't even resemble Mr. Rogers-style, although the puppets are similar in construction. For a glimpse at a Punch and Judy Show, take a look at this odd little video: Santa Claus' Punch and Judy, dug up and posted by the AV Geeks. You'll have to sit through some pretty creepy footage of Santa Claus, but trust me, the puppet show is worth it.
After my conversation with the producer yesterday, I took a whack at designing a Punch. Keep in mind, this is without any real research on the matter, aside from what I did in college as part of an info-gorge I did on commedia dell'arte:
I fell in love with commedia in college. We were staging "The Miser" by Molliere, and we dug deep into the commedia tradition for inspiration. (Molliere used the classic commedia "types" in his plays.) The director had this brilliant notion of separating the acts of the play with "intermezzi" -- comedic interludes between the main action. These intermezzi were silent bits of slapstick, sometimes employing traditional "lazzi" (well-rehearsed, stock gags from the commedia tradition).
That summer, Pamela and I went to Italy, and I was in commedia heaven. On our last full day, we tracked down a Punch and Judy show, and laughed our way through it, along with a dozen kids.
(Mr. Punch is the English great-great-grandson of commedia's Pulcinella.)
This is a second attempt at Mr. Punch. He looks like a dog.
Attempt number three. Mr. Burns meets Mr. Punch!
Ahhh ... fourth time's the charm. Combining the successful elements from the first few attempts into a fairly decent interpretation. I love the admiral's hat, but I'm not sure if it's correct.
The challenge for me is to really honor the tradition, and not just bring forth a shallow, Americanized imitation of Punch and Judy.
As for all you die-hard Felties pre-fans out there, don't worry. I'm not going to let this derail my myriad other projects (my play "Sonny" will be staged this year! The Felties will be shot! DAHT will be updated ... eventually!) I need a rather large amount of stuff in the air in order to feel adequately challenged artistically. Besides, one day one of these ideas is gonna catch, and I'll be able to quick my day job!
Imagine all the free time! I may start another couple of blogs!
(BTW - I wish I could take credit for the beautiful Punch at the top of this page. Alas, I cannot. It was drawn by Mr. George Cruikshank in 1881.)