2018 proved a remarkable summer both for sunshine and for audience numbers at The Harlequin. Rhos-on-Sea’s sandy beach had more families than I’ve seen for several years, and although the sun kept a lot of them on the beach a goodly few came into the shade of the puppet theatre to enjoy our production of “Tales from Alice” being my favourite sequences from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
So a new generation of children met the White Rabbit, the Duchess. the Caterpiller, the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat and Humpty Dumpty as well as learning about a Victorian little girl, Alice Lidel, who lived locally and for whom the book was written by Lewis Carrol as a birthday present.
Our nexy opening is for the October Half Term (October 22 to November 3) when we will be showing “The Princess and the Gooseberry Mandarin.” This was Eric Bramall’s favourite puppet play, and it his recorded voice playing the part of the Mandarin.
Since this little season spans Halloween we will of course be featuring Mr Scary-Bones the Skeleton in The Marionette Cabaret, the feature which ends every show at the Harlequin.
If there has been a favourite puppet with the children over the years, including both boys and girls and even the young ones, it has to be The Skeleton.
St Bridgets on the Wirral is a very old church, a Primary School and an enthusiastic Community who every year put on a St Bridgets Summer Fair towards the end of June. For the past four or five years that I’ve been attending with my Punch & Judy show the event has been blessed with sunshine. It’s a fairly low key event with perhaps only dozen stalls, a bouncy castle and Punch & Judy, a burger barbeque and a stall offering strawberries and cream.. They have a brass band, handbell ringing demonstrations in the church, and Maypole Dancing by children from the school. It is always well supported and is one I look forward to each year. It has a reassuring timeless feel and is not all that different from the Garden Party in the Vicarage garden which I remember as a child, although in those days we didn’t have a brass band, or a Punch & Judy for that matter, but we did have a bran tub!
This year the Fair was opened by the Mayor of the Wirral (The Wirral being a Metropolitan Borough I learned). He and the Mayoress stayed for the whole afternoon. I had just finished my last show and was beginning to pack up when the Mayor’s minder (there must be some official title but I don’t know it) came to ask if Mr Punch was still available for a photograph with the be-chained couple. Of course Punch agreed, well he’s always been a supporter of Civic Authority, and he cheekily asked for a copy of the picture. The Mayoress asked for a business card, so can we look forward to a summons to the Mayor’s Parlour?
13th to 15th July 2018
(Beverley is in East Yorkshire)
I’ve just been sent leaflets and brochures to publicize this event but sadly the theatre will not be open until the Summer Holidays so I thought I’d just mention it on here. It sounds an exciting event with a lot of puppetry from all over Britain, with 32 ticketed events and 14 free Outdoor Acts.
With Puppetry for ADULTS & FOR CHILDREN
The website for more information, the programme, and for booking seats is:
Facebook: beverleypuppetfestival Twitter: @bevpuppetfest
Telephone: 01482 391672 and 07855 328552
Well the Summer has started with some lovely sunny days. The Caerwys Agricultural Show, which coincided with The Queen’s Official Birthday, was blessed with glorious sunshine. They deserved the good weather since last year’s event suffered the worst weather I have ever experienced for a show. It was so wet and the ground so waterlogged that the cars and trucks were getting bogged down getting on to the showground. It got worse, in fact it rained all day long. So it seemed only fair that they should strike lucky this year.
I did three shows during the day with goodly crowds for each.
I’ve also been busy in the Harlequin with school shows – two coming from Northern Ireland and a third from the Sheffield area. There are less of these private bookings these days, partly due to the high cost of transport but also to the increasing health and safety complications involved in planning such trips.
They usually are older children, around 11 years old, and they make a lovely audience, eager and appreciative.
I’ve just taken a break from rehearsing Alice which I am startingearly since as it gets nearer to end of term I’ll have less time due to work in schools. This is when many of the schools book me to visit the school with a puppet themed workshop, usually to fit in with their Seaside topic.
Now excuse me, there’s a Duchess and a Cheshire Cat need my attention.
The Sun is shining and the Summer is on its way. Yesterday was the last day of the late May Holiday when we presented “A Silly King and the Wrong Wife” and also “The Little Ballet of the Handkerchief Princess” which, together with ourBimbamboozle Magic Tricks and Marionette Cabaret mad for a longer show than usual, almost two hours. Everyone seemed to enjoy the show and I had lots of lovely appreciative comments and some really delightful little helpers with the Magic.
I’m now making plans for the Summer Holidays when the feature production will a potpourri of favourite scenes from “Alice in Wonderland” and I’ve sneaked in Humpty Dumpty from “Alice through the Looking Glass”.
Next Saturday is the the first of the weekends where I present Punch and Judy at fetes and galas. This is the Caerwys Agricultural Show. Last year was the first time I have appeared at this show and I met some very nice families. I am looking forward to my visit on the 9th June. when I will be presenting two Punch & Judy Shows and a Magic Show during the day. If you fancy visiting this traditional and well run event it is The Caerwys Agricultural Show, Gatehouse Fields, Babell, CH8 8PY. My shows will probably be at 12.30, 2.30 and 4.15
The Easter Season has started, and I’m now feeling elated that the Harlequin is back in full swing. Details can be found on
Perhaps I’ll see some of you over the holiday.
Happy Easter to Everyone.
It was such a great feeling to reopen the Harlequin after so many months. At last the bulk of the renovation after the fire is complete and the Hansel & Gretel production went ahead without problems. Audiences were a healthy size on most days, and even on the couple of days when you were only a few you were an enthusiastic few.
Thanks for all the kind remarks and good wishes, and thanks for being patient, and coming back.
Next on the books is the Easter Season with Toys on Parade in The Magic Toyshop.
The carpenter who started repacing the fire damaged doors started in September. Then, having got me secure in a fashion he went off on other jobs. Then he went on holiday, came back and caught the flue and has only just been able to continue with the job. He hopes to be all finished by Tuesday. Then the flooring chap has to come and replace the burnt cork tiles around the threshold.
The electrics are nearly completed.
I’ve managed a couple of run throughs of Hansel and Gretel, and tested out stage lighting and sound etc. I’ve still a lot of cleaning and clearing, but there is nothing that could stop The Harlequin re-opening so I’m really looking forward to getting back into harness. I’ve even got a couple of dozen email and telephone bookings and so will have an audience. That’s the most important thing of course.
Roll on a week today, Sunday February 11th.
Tuesday and Wednesday saw a visit from Chem-Dry, the company cleaning the seats. They completed the cleaning of all 118 on the first day, then came back next day to re-fireproof the fabric. They are looking good. On Thursday the electricians were here and are almost finished. I expect them again next week. The foyer curtains have been cleaned and are in the process of being re-lined, and should be back the week before I open.
My season starts on the 11th of February so I’m busy rehearsing Hansel and Gretel at the moment. I’ve also made a soundtrack for the cabaret section of the programme so things are coming along nicely. I’ve actually taken one or two bookings so it really feels like I will be back in business before too long.
It’s been quite a slog with a lot of frustration, but helped enormously by the friends and fellow puppeteers who have, unsolicited, given practical help in various ways. I am very grateful to you all.