Taking the stress out of your child's annual celebrations!

Posts tagged ‘Punch and Judy’

In a Videojug Puppet Making Frenzy

After having been approached by Videojug,Image the video production company to make a series of how to puppet making videos for Youtube, how could I say no? Anyone who knows me a little or indeed reads this or my Diane gets Crafty blog knows I’m an avid maker. Plus the opportunity to have 20 short professional videos made for me that I could use was just too tempting.

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane

Me, an expert? Who'd have thunk it?

So I signed up to make a series of 20 short 3minute videos on the most Googled puppet making searches and become Videojug’s expert puppet maker. Gosh. I like that title. I set a date for filming the 20 videos ,worked out my list of makes and got all excited.

Then, like so many other people in the UK I went down with the flu.

Cue lots of days not being able to get out of bed , loss of voice , coughing, spluttering and generally not feeling very well.

Add to this scenario normal work commitments : children’s parties that were booked well in advance. I had to fulfill those despite a barely audible voice and not feeling very well at all. In fact I was faced with one of my busiest periods of booking for a long time. Yey for success, boo for illness and bad timing.

This was my nightmare scenario: having so many opportunities and struggling to live up to them. But I soldiered on. Somehow.

Then I woke up one morning to find my top lip covered in fever blisters where my skin had cracked from the flu and I was facing being filmed just a week later.

I rescheduled and pushed back the filming a week. It’s now due in just a few days time and I’m on my last few puppets. I can’t make most of them completely as it is for demonstration purposes, so I’m in a situation of having to make multiple stages of each puppet so I can do a Blue Peter style ‘here’s one I made earlier’ moment. There are so many restrictions when trying to fit everything into a 3 minute video.

Punch and Judy puppets made by Diane's Puppets

Here's some I made earlier , 20 years ago in fact.

So I’m almost there.

Did I mention getting some terrible 24 hour gastric bug as well ? Oh I forgot that one. My lip is now healed. I’ve stopped being ill and I’ve almost got my voice back, and I’ve four parties to complete before finishing the final 6 makes.

Time is ticking , so what am I doing writing blog posts?

Here is a quick preview of some of my makes:Cat hand puppet made by Diane's Puppets

Dog sock puppet made by Diane's Puppets

Silly sock dog puppet

Mr Punch paper puppet

Mr Punch paper puppet in progress

Judy paper puppet made by Diane's puppets

Judy all finished

Felt finger puppets pig cow

Felt farm fingers

Ballerina finger puppet

Paper ballerina finger puppet

Mouse paper finger puppet

Cute mouse finger puppet

making papier mache puppet heads

The stages in making papier mache puppet heads

Well those are just a taster. Many of the puppets have to be made on camera. So, if you’re looking for a place to find out how to make simple puppets for and with your children or just for you ( puppets are for everyone!) then do come back and see my videos on Videojug.

Coming soon, just for you.

Punch and Judy: The Debate Continues

Watching Mr Punch , age 5

That's the way to do it!

My first experience of puppets was on Skegness beach.

Here I am, dolly cradled in my arm while I was transfixed by the antics of Mr Punch.

I couldn’t understand his strange squeaky voice and I never really understood the story but I was drawn in to this weird world with its shouting and slapsticks and cries of THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT!

The crocodile ate the sausages and sometimes he even ate the baby. I took it all in my stride. I was a little scared of Mr Punch and never understood why he kept hitting everyone with his big stick but the fear was part of the thrill.

That was way back in 1969, I was 5 years old and England wasn’t politically correct.

Some may say those were better days, I’m not so sure. I appreciate people being sensitive to others feelings.

I grew up to be a children’s entertainer and puppeteer,  an artist and a mum of two girls and grandmother to one beautiful granddaughter who is my continuing inspiration.

Puppet lady Diane and her granddaughter

Grandma, what's that on your face?

I also grew up to be a feminist and understood  that the Punch and Judy story may not be a mythology that is terribly healthy for children in the long term.

It took time for me to get to that position though.

When I first started out on my journey as a Children’s Entertainer I thought that doing Punch and Judy was what was expected. So I made a set of characters and very handsome they were even if I say so myself. I sent away to have a swazzle made ( the secret voice changer to make Mr Punches peculiar voice) and practiced with this strange aluminium and tape contraption sitting on my tongue. I had plenty of near misses and almost swallowed the swazzle in getting my technique sussed. Still, it remained a challenge to make Mr Punch understandable and I understood only too well why I struggled as a child to understand his strange buzzy voice.

Punch and Judy puppets made by Diane's Puppets

My Punch and Judy set, minus my very large crocodile.

Toby dog puppet by puppet show provider Diane

Traditional Toby dog to start the show

Punch and Judy puppets made by Diane's Puppets

The very dysfunctional family

Big green crocodile puppet for birthday parties

No Punch and Judy is complete without this character

Let’s just say I made lots of very small children cry with this very first performance. They didn’t cry because the show was terrible, it was just that I scared them. Today’s children are more sensitive than the 1969 lot! Maybe that is because in today’s world , there is a lot more to be afraid of. ( There’s a debate in there somewhere)

Punch and Judy didn’t start out as a children’s show. It was the satire of the day, the Spitting Image or Rory Bremner show of its time. This is why there is parody of domestic violence, drunkenness, child abuse and features classic characters such as the Beadle  and the Hangman. In a very silly scene, Mr Punch manages to trick the hangman into putting his own head into the noose to demonstrate how it was done, and Mr Punch hangs the hangman.

The show was a  morality tale , where Mr Punch is supposed to get his comeuppance in a final battle with the Devil himself. There was such public outcry when Mr Punch lost the battle to the Devil and was dragged down to hell, that the story morphed into Mr Punch finally beating the Devil and becoming the ante hero that we all know today. The morality tale  became twisted .

So unless I get a specific request and lots of nagging to bring Mr Punch out again I shall stick to making children laugh rather than cry at birthday parties and puppet show events.

Mr Punch will remain in hibernation until further notice.

THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT!

Tears, Mr Punch and the great water pistol disaster.

Puppet theatre (~ Punch and Judy), c. 1770

Image via Wikipedia

Don't cry sweetheart!

It's okay...

I’m often asked how I started in this wonderful job of being a children’s entertainer /puppeteer. It was almost over before it began. But let me share with you my very first paid gig as a London Children’s entertainer.

Eighteen years ago:

I was fresh to the business. I had secured my first gig in a very posh bit of Clapham for a party for two year olds. ( Now the red light  should have been flashing right about now, but … sigh, I was new and green) The client had requested a Punch and Judy show, ( alarm bells were ringing but I was deaf to their cacophony). I had just made my very first set of Punch and Judy figures, had bought my swazzle so I could do that distinctive Mr Punch voice so I was really keen to have a real audience to play to. I was keen, too keen. I drew up some lovely pictures of Mr Punch and Judy and photocopied them for colouring in sheets after the show, oh, I thought I had it all covered.

How wrong can a woman be?

In my excitement and enthusiasm and naivety I had forgotten a basic thing. I had forgotten to think about my clients. No, not the client who had booked me, for I clearly was fulfilling all of her requests and more by doing what she had requested, but my REAL clients – the children I was going to be performing for. I had forgotten to think about the fact that this party was for a child who was turning two. So the majority of the audience were still in nappies, they were mere babies really.

You can tell this is going to end in tears, can’t you?

Well I got there nice and early. It was a beautiful and grand house in the very nicest part of Clapham. I have to admit that back then I was more than a little bit in awe. ( Nothing much phases me now). I set up my brand new puppet theatre, it looked the business, really fresh and bright and visually exciting.

Now I have to admit to my shame that I did a terrible thing. As part of my props I had brought along a filled water pistol. And a really big crocodile.

Snap! Snap!

Well it was all part of the slapstick fun wasn’t it? Surely that was the way to do it?

This next part is hard to write.

I snapped the crocodile at the children then squirted water at them. Mr Punch beat the bejeezus out of Judy and the crocodile ate the baby. All good family fun huh?

I hang my head in shame and laugh at the me that was me back then.

Of course all of the children cried. Oh how they cried. Even my colouring in sheets didn’t help ( as if!).

The miracle of the day was that I got paid. Not much, you understand, but I still got paid.

I went home and cried like a baby. I cried more than all those two year old’s put together. Oh the tears of a clown.

Then when I finished crying I pulled up my soggy socks and decided that I would never make a child cry again.

I sat down with a pen and paper and the from out of the ashes of that first disastrous show my most popular show was born.

The BOBBY BUNNY SHOW.

Based on the idea that all children love to jump up and down, Bobby Bunny was a mischievous rabbit who liked to hop. My show was interactive, fun and above all not scary. High energy with a healthy dollop of naughtiness to keep the giggles coming, it hit the spot. I previewed it at  play groups to great feedback.

So it was almost worth terrifying those two year olds. I hope I did no lasting damage to their psyche’s. Those two year old’s will be about  20 years old now.

Gosh, now I feel old.

Older but infinitely wiser and much better at my job.

So do I still perform Punch and Judy?

No .  Turns out Punch and Judy was never meant for children anyhow.

It was meant as satire for adults ( before the days of television and Rory Bremer, you understand) . Ah! Now the penny drops. Now we understand the wife-beating and the hanging of Mr Punch by the devil and the Beadle. Because they were puppet characters, adults these days always assume that they are just for children.

No, my puppets are for children. No more Mr Punch for me.

I learned that the hard way.

Older and wiser.

As for me, like my puppet booth, I have a few cracks and scars, I may not now be as fresh or as pretty as when I started but this London Children’s entertainer now does  a damn good job. But don’t take my word for it, have a look at my reviews for yourself.

 

Entertaining London’s Children

Watching Mr Punch , age 5

As a London Children’s entertainer, my work consists of entertaining London’s children, from babies up until around 8 years old. By then they’re all too grown up for the simple joys of puppets, apparently. It’s funny, I first encountered puppets as a child on the beach front in Skegness. It was Mr Punch, hitting Judy over the head with his slap stick and shouting THAT’s the way to do it! I was dressed to match my dolly who watched with her still glassy eyes from my lap as I cradled her gently. She enjoyed it as much as I did. I remember her telling me so.

Despite the clear domestic violence and the real lack of story and plot line,from that first crude puppet show, I was hooked. I’ve been hooked on puppets ever since and now , 42 years later, I’m still in love with the magic of puppetry.

My, how things have changed since those days.
But I still believe there is a constancy in the simple joys of puppets and the journey into imagination that they facilitate. No electronic game or fancy doodah can replace this simple joy.
And for that I am eternally grateful.

That’s the way to do it!

Brand spanking new website!

I’m so excited, I’ve finally taken the plunge and sorted out a proper website for my business. It’s been a long time coming and my old free tripod website o has served me well, but I realised it was time to take what I do seriously and be a ‘proper’ grownup. In my line of work it is sometimes hard to be taken seriously, even by myself. So I’m pumped.

Announcing

www.dianes-puppets.co.uk

I do hope you like it , dear readers.

Over the last 18 years my job as a children’s entertainer in the London area, providing puppet shows for children’s birthday parties has brought me much joy. I hope to be in my dotage when I retire , which I hope is in a long time. I’m 47 now and don’t anticipate retiring until my arms , legs and voice give in. Roll on granny in the sparkly tights , say I! I hope to be famous around these parts for that old lady who brings joy to kids  one day.

Here’s where it all started: It was on a beach in Skegness. I was about 5 and dressed to match my lovely dolly. There was a puppet show on the beach and a certain Mr Punch who by turns terrified and delighted me.

Intoxicated by Mr PunchMy love affair with puppets was born here.

Tag Cloud