Mr Punch’s Birthday Celebrations May 10th 2020

This annual event known as The May Fayre takes place in St Paul’s Churchyard, Covent Garden, London on the Sunday nearest the anniversary of Punch’s first recorded appearance in Britain.

This year it has had to be cancelled due to this wretched virus. The Punch and Judy fraternity are therefore celebrating online, mainly on the Punch and Judy Page on Facebook.

Chris Somerville’s contribution can be seen here:

Chris, aka Mr Bimbamboozle, presents Punch & Judy to a tiny audience on a very windy Llanfairfechan seafront.

This is not my idea of fun

I started writing this blog when the theatre was struck by tragedy and the theatre suffered an arson attack. It was a relatively small fire but it caused a lot of damage and kept the theatre closed for a full year.

Now we are closed again, but not for refurbishment (and hopefully not for a full year) but for the safety of us all. We are all, literally “all” because the whole world is involved, in the throes of this nightmare which is this coronavirus attack. It is quite terrifying in its speed of spreading among the community and the numbers to whom it proves fatal.  The only good side, as far as there can be a good side, is that by and large it seems to be sparing  children, who rarely catch the virus or if they do then only mildly. 

I pray that all of you will stay safe and healthy, the children of course, but also the Mums and Dads and very especially, the Grandmas and Grandads who are so often the ones who bring the children to the theatre. Of course, they by dint of age, are, like me, among those who are most vulnerable. Of course as I’m much older than you grandparents I’m supposedly much more vulnerable.

Anyway I’m going to do my very best to come through this ordeal and hope to see you all in happier days when we are able to act normally and gather together when I can get my “fix” of children’s laughter.

Until then, keep safe, keep well, and keep praying.

Old but valued….

I had a lovely comment in an email toady. A lady had enquired about wheelchair access to the theatre. I had replied that such access was limited and only possible if the wheelchair user could transfer to a theatre seat. I went on to explain that the theatre was built in 1958 and no provision for wheelchair users seems to have been considered in those days. I have looked into such things, but there is no way that the theatre could now be adapted for the needs of the disabled user other than pulling down and rebuilding.

The lady’s very encouraging reply was “The theatre is the most wonderful and charming place and my friend said she remembers going as a little girl and please dont ever pull it down or rebuild it for any reason!”

With the October Half Term over now is the time to put Alice in Wonderland into mothballs as I refurbish the puppets for the Christmas Season. Some of them will be in need of a little TLC I think.

Busman’s Holiday

I’m off on Friday for a weekend in Skipton for their bi-annual “Skipton International Puppet Festival” and have a rest from preparations for October and also for the Christmas Show.

Information at www.skiptonpuppetfestival.co.uk

“Tales from Alice in Wonderland”
Santa’s Magic Toyshop
opens 3pm Boxing Day

Preparing for Wonderland

The Summer Season being over I am busy planning for the October Half Term (Oct 23 to Nov 2) with a show featuring characters from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, and with plans for the Christmas Show, “Santa’s Magic Toyshop” (Dec 26 to Jan 4)

Online Booking is available for the October Half Term at

http://puppetshow.info

and for the Christmas Season at

http://puppetpanto.co.uk

This weekend is the last of my Summer Season’s outdoor Punch & Judy appearances. This is for the Ruthin Donkey Derby held at Cae Ddol Park, Ruthin  (adjacent to the Rugby Club). It kicks off at 12 noon. I usually do two shows in the afternoon.  As well as Donkey Races I understand there’s also a Duck Race. This event was originally planned for June but was cancelled, or rather postponed, due to flooding. Entrance to this event is free – it is organised by Rotary and paid for by local businesses.

Summer Season 2019

Tuesday July 23rd to Saturday August 30th, Monday to Friday only

(Except no shows on July 28th and August 13th, 14th 15th)

This season features our popular production of “Hansel & Gretel”, a puppet play by Eric Bramall adapted from the story by the Brothers Grimm.

There is of course the Magic part of the programme where the children are eager to help Mr. Bimabamboozle with his tricks. And we end as usual with a selection of items from “Marionette Cabaret”

This show is shown each weekday, but during the Summer the theatre closes at the weekends. This is because as well as being one of Bitain’s leading Marionette puppeteers Chris also recognised as a Punch & Judy professor and is busy with this traditional form of puppetry at Agricultural Shows, Garden Parties, Flower Show and Carnivals through the Summer..

These Punch & Judy Shows are free, although some of the events do make a charge for entry to the show ground. In cas eanyone is interested here are a few dates where you can see Punch & Judy:

29th July Prestatyn Flower Show, Church Vicarage Gardens, High Street, Prestatyn.

28th July Llanfairfechan Promenade, near Pavilion Cafe. Magic and Punch & Judy Show around 2.30pm. No charge.

3rd August Dyserth Falls, Dyserth. Sows at 12pm and 2.0pm

4th August Beaumaris. Happy Valley Funday (just past the Castle).

11th August Llanfairfechan Promenade, near Pavilion Cafe. Magic and Punch & Judy Show around 2.30pm. No charge.

13th & 14th August. The Anglesey Agricultural Show.

15th August The Denbigh and Ruthin Agricultural Show

17th August Ruthin Flower Show

18th August Llanfairfechan Promenade, near Pavilion Cafe. Magic and Punch & Judy Show around 2.30pm. No charge.

24th August The Denbigh Show

25th August Betws GG Show LL214RA

14th September Ruthin Donkey Derby  (Adjacent Ruthin Rugby Club)

MAY FAYRE FEVER

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by Chris » 31 Mar 2019 11:25 am A young friend of mine, a would be Punch prof, is going to Turkey for a two week Easter holiday. He’s far more excited about the coming May Fayre Punch & Judy Festival in Covent Garden than his foreign holiday and every time he meets me he asks if I know how long before Covent Garden, and when I give some approximation he gleefully tells me to the exact day.
 In the 1980s I did visit Turkey since Istanbul was one of our ports of call when I was performing on The Calipso, a Greek cruise ship. I loved Topkapi, the palace which figured in a the film “Topkapi”, the classic jewel heist movie, and also St. Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox Christian cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum. Quite splendid!
I searched but never tracked down Mr.Punch’s cousin Karagoz in Istanbul, although I did find him in Greece. But that’s a story waiting to be written up for the PunchandJudy.com website.

This is Karagoz, a puppet folk hero in both Turkey and Greece. Unlike Mr. Punch who is a Hand Puppet this is a Shadow Puppet.

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This is all just an excuse to remind you:-
SUNDAY MAY 12th, St Paul’s Church Gardens, Covent Garden. Mr. Punch awaits you.

by Chris » 07 Feb 2019 05:45 pm COVENT GARDEN MAY FAYRE

AND PUPPET FESTIVAL

SUNDAY 12 MAY 2019

ST PAUL’S CHURCH GARDEN, BEDFORD STREET, WC2

Dear Friends

We have great pleasure in inviting you to attend the 44th Annual Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival to be held this year on Sunday 12 May 2019 to celebrate Mr Punch’s 357th birthday near the very spot that Samuel Pepys first saw Mr Punch in England in May 1662.

The May Fayre will take place in the garden of St Paul’s Church, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2. The day will start with a Grand Procession at 11am led by the Superior Brass Band, followed by the Special Church Service at 12noon, and performances from 12.30 until 5.30pm. We are hoping for lots of sun and friendly crowds again this year.

With best wishes from Maggie Pinhorn, Amy Dyke-Coomes and the May Fayre Committee.

Please reply to The May Fayre Committee

c/o Alternative Arts, 530A Commercial Road, London E1 0HY

Tel 020 8800 6665 email info@alternativearts.co.uk

BIRTHDAY PARTIES

The Easter Production at the Harlequin Puppet Theatre will feature The Grand Puppet Circus, always a great favourite and featuring a large number of very unusual puppets. I always enjoy performing the Circus. Until then I’m also busy travelling around, especially at weekends, taking my Magic Tricks and Punch & Judy to children’s birthday parties.

I’ve always enjoyed birthday party work, it’s one of those things that haven’t changed since I was a child. The world may be full of technology, and children may well be more competant than many adults, but even so we forget that they are born with exactly the same imagination, curiousity and sense of fun and wonder as were their parents and grandparents. I find that children today are  much the same as always, and I’ve been performing for them professionally for the past half century. Children still respond to traditional children’s entertainment. They still laugh at Pantomime and Punch & Judy and Slapstick comedy, and still are fascinated by magic and illusion.

If you are interested in Traditional Birthday Party entertainment then you might look at

http://puppetmagic.uk

or for Children’s entertainment fundays and fetes.