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bendk
05-11-2005, 04:37 AM
I have seen quite a few puppets from the play PUNCH AND JUDY posted in the gallery section. This is one of my favorite plays, right up there with WAITING FOR GODOT. This play has everything you could want in a children's play: infanticide, spousal abuse culminating in murder by blunt force trauma (big stick), an execution, the undead (a ghost and skeleton) and even a battle to the death with the Devil. And I didn't even mention the half of it. Basically, Punch kills his wife and child and then refuses any attempts at justice imposed by this world or the next. He merrily murders anyone that gets in his way; all of them perpetrated with the utmost glee and humor. The only thing this play denies its audience is 'the moment of consummate disaster.' But perhaps this scene has been written by some creative puppet master that I am unaware of. One of great things about this play is that it is not cast in stone. Certain scenes are standard, but there is much room left for interpretation. This play is hundreds of years old and has been performed an untold number of ways.

In Henry Mayhew's famous sociological study, LONDON LABOR AND THE LONDON POOR, conducted on the streets of London in the mid 19th century, a punchman recounts an interesting phenomenon: Often preachers would set up opposite of punch shows and gather a completely different kind of audience - the God-fearing and pious. This play is an attack on the solemnity with which some approach the world. Ironically, despite its violence and death, it is not in the least bit morbid. One of my favorite scenes is:

Punch has just been attacked and a doctor is called. When he arrives on the scene, Punch is lying on the ground, apparently lifeless.

Doctor: Are you dead Mr. Punch?
Punch: Yes

Does dialogue get any better than that?
I think not.


Given TL's interest in puppets, I'm sure he is familiar with this famous play; although, I can't recall if he ever mentioned it in any of his stories.

Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean produced an excellent graphic novel based on and around the play. It is called: THE TRAGICAL COMEDY OR COMICAL TRAGEDY OF MR. PUNCH.

If you haven't read the play, give it a shot. It is a rewarding experience getting to know Mr. Punch.

'With a bump on his nose and a hump on his back and a big stick to give you a whack!'


P.S.
Dr. Bantham,
Give that crocodile puppet some sausages. He looks hungry.

ElHI
05-12-2005, 05:08 AM
Are you referring to a particular Punch and Judy play? It seems to exist in so many different versions.

Stenbock, in his essay "The Myth of Punch", said that there are only 4 great subjects: Faust, Tannhauser, Don Juan and Punch. The two latter being about the triumph of absolute Evil, but in rather different ways. In his eyes Punch is all the more abominable because its intent is purely to entertain, and even worse: to entertain children!

yellowish haze
05-12-2005, 07:17 AM
I just wanted to add that this famous Czech puppet-animator, Jan Svankmajer, made a short version of "Punch and Judy" in 1966...

http://www.illumin.co.uk/svank/films/punch/punch.html

unknown
05-12-2005, 01:19 PM
Ooo...I'll have to check out the Jan Svankmajer version...do you know if it's on one of his collection dvds?

bendk
05-12-2005, 06:20 PM
ElHI,
I am not referring to any particular 'Punch Opera.' I have read so many of them, that I just pick and choose my favorite scenes and they have all merged over time to form my ideal version. I have read sanitized interpretations in children's play books. Punch will throw the baby out the window and Toby the Dog will catch it and run away. And then Punch will chase Judy off the stage. I prefer the older, violent versions.

I would love to read that essay by Stenbock. It is funny you should mention Stenbock, as I was just about to start a post to inquire if anyone knows his work. I don't know anything about him. I know he is one of David Tibet's favorite writers and that Durtro published some of his books - all expensive. Stenbock's attitude towards Punch, being that it was abominable because it was violent and it was aimed at children, reminds me of the book STRUWWELPETER by Heinrich Hoffman. I always got a kick out of this book, but I don't think it should be used in child rearing. TL mentions this book in his short story ALICE'S LAST ADVENTURE. Come to think of it, many of the fairy tales I read as a kid were violent too.

Slawek and unknown,
I have an older VHS tape called SVANKMAJER VOLUME 1, and it has PUNCH AND JUDY on it. I liked this short film. The only resemblance it has with the original play, though, is that it has the Punch and Joey puppets in it, and it contains some funny violence as they hit each other over the head with wooden mallets. The film is only 10 minutes long. I never bought the dvds, so I don't know if this film is on them. I like some of the elements that Svankmajer uses in his films, but I can't say that his work has meant that much to me. I have seen ALICE, FAUST, LITTLE OTIK, and a collection of his short films. I did like LITTLE OTIK (I want the prop book they used in the film) and a few of the short films. There is a cool looking larger-than-life devil puppet costume in FAUST.

If you enjoy Svankmajer's work, you may be interested in the book DARK ALCHEMY The films of Jan Svankmajer. It is a collection of essays about him and it contains an interview with him as well. I have only read a few of the essays, but they were interesting; a lot of talk about surrealism and puppetry.

Dr. Bantham
06-14-2005, 05:41 PM
I managed to find Jan Svankmejer's version of "Punch and Judy" and convert it for your viewing pleasure within VideoBox. Enjoy...

unknown
06-14-2005, 06:53 PM
:shock:


*runs to the videobox*


*trips*

bendk
06-15-2005, 01:31 AM
Thank you, Dr. Bantham. It's great to see Svankmajer's Punch in the video box.

While I have always liked this film, it wasn't until Slawek posted that link a while ago, that I have gained a greater appreciation for it. I have watched it numerous times since then, and I have grown to love it. I got down the book DARK ALCHEMY and read about it, and I scoured the net as well.

To add a mock funeral to the play is a wonderful innovation. It fits in perfectly with the gothic burlesque tone of the play. To watch Punch carry the coffin out of the house is both incongruous and hilarious. And the way Punch and Joey keep changes places in it is very funny.

The mechanical, mangy, monkey orchestra adds a nice, bizarre element to the film. For me, it brings to mind a decaying nostalgia.

The film medium works especially well with the guinea pig. Close-ups of the animal, and the interplay of the living and the animated dead, make it appear nauseatingly alive.

I read somewhere on the net, that the wooden mallets they use to hit each other over the head with are utensils used to tenderize meat - which is pretty darn funny.

The only thing I'm not sure about is the ending, when Punch lies still as the puppeteer's hand withdraws. I think this betrays the essence of the indomitable spirit of Mr. Punch. I would have preferred it if Punch would have ripped the puppeteer's hand off and went dancing about with it - similar to the final scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre where Leatherface does his chainsaw dance in the middle of the road. Now that would be very cool. Blood flying everywhere, even into the audience....maybe that's a bit much.

A few things from the book DARK ALCHEMY:

The marionettes in this film are meticulously copied from 17th century originals. They are are used as romantic ruins. They symbolize the old-fashioned, broken, displaced, and useless detritus of civilization. Svankmajer restores these rejected objects into a system of meaning. He says: "the use of animation lets these objects speak for themselves."

"I create my golems to protect me from the pogroms of reality." -Svankmajer

"I believe that puppets best symbolize the character of man in a contemporary, manipulated world." - Svankmajer

Svankmajer was influenced by the Theatre of Masks and the Black Theatre.

For Goethe, the puppet theatre was a metaphor for an alienation which was both social and ontological.


Does anyone know if Svankmajer's short film THE LAST TRICK OF MR SCHWARTZWALD AND MR. EDGAR was ever released on video or dvd?

unknown
06-16-2005, 01:07 AM
Just watched Svankmajer's Punch and Judy and found it to be pretty entertaining...I was caught off guard for the first minute, but once the story got going I liked it. I found it pretty humorous...along with some of the most adroit puppet manipulation I've seen.

ElHI
09-13-2005, 03:51 AM
I've recently read Frederick Cowles' story of the same name, which can be found (if you're lucky enough) in THE NIGHT WIND HOWLS (Ash-Tree Press, rare) or FEAR WALKS THE NIGHT (Ghost Story Press, much rarer).

The plot is not really original (murder of one's wife and her lover, and subsequent haunting of the murderer, up to his death in strange circumstances), but the murderer runs an ambulant Punch and Judy show, and there are some comments on the myth, made by this murderer that are interesting enough. Mostly along the lines of Stenbock's comments: "Punch and Judy is the only story worth telling..."

Oh, and at first, the murderer only sees the ghost of his dog, that he was bound to kill together with the lover lest he'd give the alarm.

Pretty nice story all in all...

bendk
09-13-2005, 04:32 AM
ElHI,
What a coincidence that you should reopen this thread. In my initial post I stated that I could not recall if TL ever mentioned Punch and Judy. Just today, I was rereading "Eye of the Lynx" (prompted by eldritchoo's interesting posts) and there it was:

"And there was much to see along the way - a Punch and Judy panorama which was staged between the chasmical folds of a playhouse curtain of rich inky red, and getting redder every passing second. Each scene flipped by like a page in a storybook: that frozen stage where the players are stiffened with immortality and around which the only thing that stirs is the reader's roving eye."
Thomas Ligotti - "Eye of the Lynx"

It is no great surprise that TL has mentioned the play, of course, given his interest in puppets, but it is nice to finally know that he has referenced it in one of his stories.

I have been tempted a couple of times to purchase THE NIGHT WIND HOWLS by Frederick Cowles - what a great cover the Ash-Tree Press edition has! - but I have never seen it for less than $75, and lately, for not less than $100. With all the great books coming out this Fall, I'll be lucky if I don't go broke.

Nemonymous
09-13-2005, 08:32 AM
An opera entitled PUNCH & JUDY by Sir Harrison Birtwhistle was broadcast on UK tv about 20 years go.
Amazon.com: Birtwistle: Punch Judy: Harrison Birtwistle, David Atherton, London Sinfonietta, David Wilson-Johnson, John Tomlinson, Philip Langridge, Phyllis Bryn-Julson: Music

For what it's worth, I think a lot of my own stuff is based on a punch & judy rough and tumble and t. winter-damon's wonderful illustrations to 'Best of DF Lewis' (1993) are somehow in this tradition (far better than the stories they illustrate!)

des

bendk
08-05-2007, 07:41 PM
The graphic novel The Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean was adapted for the stage earlier this year. Unfortunately, I came across this advertisment after the play's run had ended. I think it is still worth a look.

YouTube - The Mr. Punch Teaser Trailer

bendk
10-01-2008, 04:25 PM
I recently read "The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance" by M.R. James, and it has a wonderful nightmarish Punch and Judy sequence in it. I really like the story, and I think it would appeal to fans of Ligotti. It is available on the internet in a few different formats. I read it in the new Penguin Classics book: The Haunted Doll's House and Other Ghost Stories: The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, Volume 2 edited by S.T. Joshi. Lucky for me, my library had a copy.

MadsPLP
10-01-2008, 05:47 PM
I have been tempted a couple of times to purchase THE NIGHT WIND HOWLS by Frederick Cowles - what a great cover the Ash-Tree Press edition has! - but I have never seen it for less than $75, and lately, for not less than $100. With all the great books coming out this Fall, I'll be lucky if I don't go broke.

And now it's 200$...

I had completely forgotten about that M.R. James story. Will try to reread it sometime this fall.

On the subject of Punch & Judy, Russell Hoban's great post-apocalyptic novel (by "great" I don't mean "long", but "great" as in "of immense quality") Riddley Walker should be of interest.

In a post-apocalyptic England, the remaining persons have, several generations after some apocalyptic disaster, sunk into medieval darkness, and made a religion of the Eusa show, which partly consists of various elements of Punch & Judy shows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riddley_Walker

As for Stenbock's essay "The Myth of Punch", it was released as a now ridiculously expensive chapbook on Durtro Press. The Collected Stenbock should come out later this year (which, in Durtro-time probably means late 2010). However, "The Myth of Punch" was reprinted in The Strange Attractor Journal vol. 1 (I believe it was Vol. 2 which Mark Samuels had a story in, right? (now reprinted in Glyphotec)).
It's sadly sold out, but there are some samples of other texts from that issue available here:
http://www.strangeattractor.co.uk/saj1contents.html
Including one on the Cargo Cult, towards which VivaJune could turn his attention, should TCATHR eventually be published.

Strange Attractor is quite an interesting journal.
www.strangeattractor.co.uk (http://www.strangeattractor.co.uk)

Derteufel
10-01-2008, 10:24 PM
As a big fan of the Commedia dell'Arte, anything to do with Punch and Judy intrigues me to no end. I have a palm-sized reprint of The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy--first published in 1828, I believe. The illustrations by George Cruikshank are particularly beguiling.

bendk
10-02-2008, 12:17 PM
I read Riddley Walker many years ago. I think Anthony Burgess recommended it on his Best 99 Novels list. It was an interesting read. It took a while to get used to the unique style, but after that it was smooth sailing.

I was also able to pick a copy of Strange Attractor #1. I bought it solely for the Stenbock "Myth of Punch" essay, but there are some other fine articles. I remember a few: Drinking in London with Patrick Hamilton and Derek Raymond, Schizophrenia in 1950s American Suburbia, and one on the Cthulhu Mythos. There were some other good ones, I'm sure, but I can't remember them offhand. The only beef I have is with the cover art. It stinks. It looks like every sociology book that I never wanted to read. I missed the issue with the Mark Samuels story, but I do have Glyphotech.

MadsPLP
10-02-2008, 12:54 PM
I had the same experience, buying it solely for Stenbock, but ending up reading most of the magazine. I really should catch up on the other two issues (in spite of owning Glyphotec).

Daisy
10-02-2008, 05:26 PM
As a big fan of the Commedia dell'Arte, anything to do with Punch and Judy intrigues me to no end. I have a palm-sized reprint of The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy--first published in 1828, I believe. The illustrations by George Cruikshank are particularly beguiling.

The 1828 first edition of John Payne Collier’s Punch and Judy is one of the books I’d love to acquire for my personal collection – it’s a treasure. At this time, there are two copies available on Abebooks, but they’re enormously expensive. If you’d like to take a look at the listings, Derteufel, I’ve attached the links below. Alas, my reprint copy will have to suffice!

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1170324602&searchurl=kn%3Dpunch%2Band%2Bjudy%2Bcruikshank%26s ortby%3D1%26x%3D0%26y%3D0

and

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1157816197&searchurl=kn%3Dpunch%2Band%2Bjudy%2Bcruikshank%26s ortby%3D1%26x%3D0%26y%3D0

Derteufel
10-06-2008, 09:23 PM
As a big fan of the Commedia dell'Arte, anything to do with Punch and Judy intrigues me to no end. I have a palm-sized reprint of The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy--first published in 1828, I believe. The illustrations by George Cruikshank are particularly beguiling.

The 1828 first edition of John Payne Collier’s Punch and Judy is one of the books I’d love to acquire for my personal collection – it’s a treasure. At this time, there are two copies available on Abebooks, but they’re enormously expensive. If you’d like to take a look at the listings, Derteufel, I’ve attached the links below. Alas, my reprint copy will have to suffice!

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1170324602&searchurl=kn%3Dpunch%2Band%2Bjudy%2Bcruikshank%26s ortby%3D1%26x%3D0%26y%3D0

and

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1157816197&searchurl=kn%3Dpunch%2Band%2Bjudy%2Bcruikshank%26s ortby%3D1%26x%3D0%26y%3D0


Thanks for the links, Daisy. Unfortunately, those particular volumes are currently beyond my means. It's fun to dream, though. :)

bendk
12-02-2010, 07:09 PM
I finally got around to reading "Punch and Judy" by Frederick Cowles. I thought it was just ok. I found it in The Star Book of Horror No. 1 edited by Hugh Lamb.

And here are a few images that I have gathered together.


http://www.sideshowworld.com/Vent-1-Punch&Judy-sepia3.jpg


http://pictures.abebooks.com/FANTASTIC/2477271057.jpg


http://i.ebayimg.com/04/!B3QdzvQBmk~$(KGrHqR,!i4E)r-NKMLNBMlkq1ty)g~~_12.JPG



http://am1rahz-playgr0und.com/images/punch5.jpg



http://i.ebayimg.com/18/!B9+1LnQEWk~$(KGrHqEOKkEEzJh9YH63BM7(85!kjg~~_12.J PG


http://i33.tinypic.com/2lxw3s3.jpg (http://i33.tinypic.com/2lxw3s3.jpg)