Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Eight of Pentacles

The art of Punch and Judy puppetry is physically demanding to say the least, but I'm guessing that it's demanding in every other way you can think of as well. Here we see a Punchman hard at his labors, with his loyal bottler at his side. It's the bottler's job to gin up the attendance, and to collect whatever bits of coinage the audience is willing to part with. Once in Covent Garden I was hit on twice by the same bottler for the same show. This is a no-no of the highest order. 

Jim Henson adopted the same style of mounting his Muppet shows and they are performed the same way to this day; albeit the Muppeteers wear headsets and have the benefit of being able to watch their performances on nearby monitors. 

All in all, a Punchman needed to be able to perform some ten or twelve characters in each show, manage scenery and special props (such as the infamous sausage machine and the sausages that come out of it) and give eight or ten performances every day. He had to be able to speak clearly despite having to hold a device called a swazzle in his mouth: it is the swazzle that gives Mister Punch his distinctive reedy voice.

In this design I laid the coins down as if they were sitting in he bottom of the bottler's "bottle." The intent was to show the proceeds of hard, honest labour, but I'm not sure I like them that way, and may
"pick them up" and float them in the air conventionally. What's your vote?

-- Frede.