Friday, May 16, 2014

The Art of Play: Make Your Own Punch & Judy, 20th C.

Punch and Judy Cut-Out Theatre and Puppets
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This is by no means antique, nor even vintage.  In fact, it was made in the late Twentieth Century.  Produced by Phil Spellacy Puppets, Ltd. of Leeds, this cut-out set gives everyone a chance to stage their own Punch and Judy Show.  The set consists of cut-out paper puppets, assembly instructions, rods and split pins.
It is marked:

“Conforms to BS 5665 / PUNCH and JUDY / A beautifully designed set of puppet figures for children / to cut-out and colour - recommended age range / 7 years and above / *contains small parts which may be hazardous for / children under 3 years of age.”

'CONTENTS / Ten different card cut-out and / colour characters plus instructions / Control sticks and fasteners for / swivel joints / Mini-history and book list for further study / Script - a non-violent, non-sexist / version / PUPPET CHARACTERS FEATURED / Punch and Judy Set No.1 / Baby and Joey Set No. 2 / Doctor and Crocodile Set No. 3 / Toby and Ghost Set No. 4 / Policewoman and Jailor Set No.5 / Plus / Card cut-out Theatre Proscenium / Set No. 6 / '

In the late Twentieth Century as the world grew uglier and people looked for scapegoats, Mr. Punch and his antics came under fire by groups who called the centuries-old tradition, “violent” and “sexist.”  Of course, we know that it was no such thing as anyone who was familiar with the tradition knows that Judy gives as good as she gets and that the “violence” is clearly meant as a parody to urge others NOT to act that way.  While we are more sensible about these things now, in the 1990s this set made sure to note that it contained a “non-sexist” and “non-violent” script for the impression youngsters who would play with this for a few moments before playing a video game where they could steal cars and beat-up hookers or watch a TV show filled with sexual humor and innuendo.  Sure, Mr. Punch was the problem.  Always blame the puppets, right?

By the way, I realize we didn't have a "Treat of the Week" post this week.  I actually have a special treat for this past week, and we'll be taking a look at that next week as part of a two-day "Treat" extravaganza.  

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