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Perform a Punch and Judy Show

Home > London > Party Ideas | Fun for Children
by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published February 9th 2011
This might seem like a suggestion for the little ones, which it is sort of, but Mr. Punch and his wife don't always play nice so it's not inappropriate to come up with a racier version of their show and use it as a party piece. Or for a talent show. Because in the 17th Century, when the first Punch shows came to the UK, these performances were strictly for adults.

By Flickr user alexbrn
By Flickr user alexbrn

Before you get started on the first part of the process, the making of your puppets, you need to know a bit about said Mr. Punch, his wife Judy and their retinue. Many of you will have met them before, playing in their own miniature portable theatre, which is best described as a blacked out phone booth with shutters that open at window height and a little stage behind them. Due to the limited space in their traditional performing area, there are seldom more than two of the Punch and Judy players on stage at the same time: it's usually Mr. Punch and one other character.

These are the standard characters in a Punch and Judy play, with a brief description of what they're supposed to look like for when you make your puppets:

Mr. Punch: It's important to traditions that Punch wears a hat like a wizards, but curving over, with a tassel falling down from the peak. It's also important that he carries a stick, which he's known to apply liberally to the other characters - this is the original slap stick, and they used to have special ones that made a jolly great thwack on impact, but actually didn't hurt at all. Traditionally Mr. Punch speaks with a high squawking voice.
Judy: Judy usually wears a bonnet and an apron.
Their baby: Usually wrapped in gingham swaddling and often tucked into Judy's apron.
The Crocodile: Who is invariably green and hungry with pointed teeth.
Joey, the Clown: Could be wearing a jester's hat or a big frill around his neck.
The Constable: Who is invariably officious and wearing something akin to a policeman's hat.
The Ghost: The more sheet-like the better.
The Doctor: Who often wears all black,

If there are no little ones in the audience you could also incorporate the character of the Devil, who looks like the devil, and Pretty Polly, who is Punch's mistress.

The story isn't fixed like a Shakespearian play, it's part impromptu and part played by the traditional rules placed on each of the characters, so feel free to tailor it to your audience and to add topical comments. What you do need to be consistent about is the format of the play, which is basically a series of encounters by two characters at a time, and the general storyline.

This can be loosely be described as Punch comes home to Judy and the baby, Judy forces Punch to babysit, Punch does a bad job but of course in a comedy way Judy comes home and seeing what's happening will take a stick to naughty Punch. The policeman will come and break them up, but Punch will usually best him, often joining forces with Judy to make use of the stick. After that anything goes, but often Joey the Clown is the next to arrive for dinner and bringing a string of sausages, which he might give to Punch to look after... But really when the sausages come out the audience knows it's time for the crocodile, who will also feel the wrong side of the 'slapstick'. The Doctor may then need to be called, and try to insist on a medicine that Punch doesn't like the sound of, but of course Punch won't be bested or bossed as long as he has the stick. If any of the characters meets an end possibly in the jaws of the crocodile, he or she might come back as a ghost to give Punch a fright, but it turns out that ghosts can also be bested with sticks, so invariably Punch wins the day.

Singing, dancing and joking are all part of the experience, the humour being most important. People who think about these sorts of things suggest that this is like an early version of 'The Simpsons': a tale about a family that's both grotesque, yet also a vehicle for stories of morality. Like panto audience participation is encouraged, so get your audience to feel involved anyway you can.

If you're looking for a storyline to follow there are scripts available from the Punch and Judy Fellowship, or you can watch one of their free videos for inspiration. They also sell puppets.

Traditional Punch and Judy puppets are made of wood. But these are hard to make and expensive to buy, so the quick, cheap and easy version is to make them like glove puppets. To do this you need two pieces of felt for each character and crafty bits and bobs to make their decorations and outfits from see the above descriptions for decorating advice.

Step 1: The basic puppet is the shape of a two thumbed mitten or a ghost made of a sheet. Lay your hand against one piece of felt, with your fingers together and thumb and little finger at a right angles to them, and then draw around it generously, keeping the top our your shape nice and round and the bottom of it nice and wide. Try and keep the outline fairly symmetrical.

Step 2: Then lay your other piece of felt on top and cut them together so that they're the same size, and stitch them together as well.

Step 3: Now you have your puppet shape choose which character you're making and then dress them accordingly. It's probably easiest to add their faces first, complete with googly eyes. You can make Punch's hat in much the same way as the puppet's bodies using red felt and cutting it into the shape of the top of a banana, Judy's apron can be glued directly to her body, and the clown and policeman's costumes are quite prescriptive. The crocodile is a bit challenging, as you really need him to have jaws, so he's best made out of a sock. It means he won't have arms, but he'll have those powerful jaws and big chomping teeth so it won't matter!
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Why? It's a sure fire way to keep kids entertained on a rainy day
Good website-i need a good script for kids with the puppets judy and baby croc and constable and would it be possible if you could idnetify my punch or joey because we aren't sure which he is:( its a old puppet set, no box just a thing to hang it up with 6 pockets and matterial for curtains and background??thanks
By Anonymous
Saturday, 26th of May @ 03:56 pm
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