Mittwoch, 12. Dezember 2007

GARP Punch and Judy 5. What has led on from Punch and Judy?

5. What has led on from Punch and Judy?

How has Punch and Judy influenced other artists and visual communicators?
Do the shows still exist? If so do they resemble the “original’ shows closely?
Since the arrival of Punch and Judy one can see how it has influenced many artists and visual communicators.
Here are some examples of work I have found that have been either re-interpreted the show or used elements from it to inspired their work.

Jan Svankmajer

Whilst looking for images on Punch and Judy on the Internet, I came across Jan Svankmajer’s film, “Punch and Judy” a ten-minute animation, made in 1966.

I think this animation is wildly imaginative, original and bizarre. This is most definitely one of my favourite animations of all time.
I had heard a little about his work before but had never come into close contact with it. I can see that Svankmajer will be a major source of inspiration for my work.

His work has been described as “ bizarrely beautiful: a witty blending of the perverse, the macabre, and the child-like”

Talk here about Svankmajer being a revolutionary animator, amazing brilliant blab la add a quote “Most memorable and unique animation films ever made” put in man’s name here. Cutting film etc

Jan Svankmajer was born in 1934 in Prague where he studied at the ‘Institute of Applied Arts’ and then went on to study at the ‘Prague Academy of Performance’ in the department of Puppetry. He also crafted masks for the famous ‘Black Theatre’ and was involved in the ‘Magica Puppet Theatre’.

At the age of 8, Svankmajer received a toy puppet theatre as a Christmas present. This was the beginning of his life-long fascination with puppetry and marionettes.
As one can see, Svankmajer had a close connection with puppetry. Therefore, it was inevitable he would refer to the wonderful Punch and Judy at some point in his life.

His connection and involvement in puppetry is apparent in many of his films/animations for example in ‘Et Cetera’ (which was also made in 1966).

(insert JS image with ‘Et Certera’)

I have noticed many similarities and differences between the animation by Jan Svankmajer and a typical Victorian performance of ‘Punch and Judy’. Here, I will compare and contrast the two performances;


The music replicates the music that would have played at the Victorian fairs such as
The music is also used in a similar way by punctuating ‘funny moments’ for the audience to laugh.

(insert JS image with Victorian people)

Svankmajer uses Victorian imagery throughout the animation. Here is an example above.

The humour is very dark and surreal, which is very similar to the humour and surreal atmosphere used in the ‘Punch and Judy’ shows.
Jan Svankmajer was part of the Czech Surrealist group and was married to a surrealist artist so he became very involved in making work in this style.

The feeling of the ‘Punch and Judy’ animation is as described by Michael O’Pray, film writer on BBC documentary “The Animator of Prague” as “very shocking, very aggressive and violent”.
I strongly agree upon this; the theme of conflict, death and destruction is used throughout both performances. For example, in the ‘Punch and Judy’ performance Punch beats both the child and Judy, in Svankmajer’s animation the clown figure (who is perhaps meant to represent Judy) and Punch continually try to beat each other to death in a “bloodthirsty fend over Punch’s pet guinea pig using infernal machines and a selection of woodmaking tools in their attempts to polish each other off”
(Allistair Woolley, Jan Svankmajer short films,

(insert JS image with Punch with hammer)


In Svankmajer’s animation he uses a guinea pig instead of a baby that is used in the ‘Punch and Judy’ show.
Punch and the clown/ harlequin stroke the guinea pig in a bizarre fashion. They inspect its eyes, hair, ears and mouth. The guinea pig seems completely unaware of what they are doing. Here we have the surreal sense of humour coming through.
I really love this part of the animation; it made me laugh hard, out loud. Afterwards, I felt quite guilty about laughing like this as it was a bit unfair for the guinea pig to be carried around by a puppet. This sort of laughter would be the same as was expected from the ‘Punch and Judy’ shows.

( image JS here Punch with guinea pig)

There is no speech in the animation (unlike in a ‘Punch and Judy’ show) but you still get a strong sense of narrative through the music and strong images that play, eventhough the plot is peculiar and absurd.

What is interesting about Svankmajer’s animation is the sharp editing and cutting, “wickedly ironic shorts” (Allistair Wooley). Unlike the live performance of ‘Punch and Judy’ you see the animation version from many angles and perspectives.
The fast pace and unusual editing of this stop-motion animation gives it a contemporary feel by presenting the ‘Punch and Judy’ show in an original way. Svankmajer has updated the original show through his mind and vision to make it more relevant for modern viewers.

Modern day ‘Punch and Judy’ shows
Hypocritical in this modern day, we have many, many programmes that are heavily violent that are easily accessible and acceptable for young children. Such as a cartoon that is influenced heavily by ‘Punch and Judy’, ‘Tom and Jerry’ where a cat and a mouse constantly try to beat up or kill one another. The plot in each episode has a very similar structure; it all leads to destruction and abuse of one another.
This uses the slapstick comedy that is used throughout as ‘Punch and Judy’ show that will get the same sort of l characters in the Punch and Judy show. However, many people see The ‘Punch and Judy’ show is now unacceptable for children to be entertained by. Why is that we accept it on television but yet not when it is performed with puppets?

Pic of punch and judy next to tom and jerry

I found a website ( that offers advice to people who want to do their own ‘Punch and Judy’ show but without the violence. They give advice such as,

“After the baby sequence Judy pops up again and there is traditionally a knock down sequence. The non violent approach could have Judy going off to fetch a policeman.”

(Van der Craats, Christopher, 10/12/07)

Another suggestion was that instead of the scene where Punch throws the child outside of the window:

“Punch can accidentally drop the baby out the window. Or he can put it in the cupboard and forget where he put it.
I once performed this sequence singing "Rockabye baby" having the children sing along and thus inadvertently implicating them in Punch's crime when it came to "down will come baby cradle and all". Never do that.”

(Van der Craats, Christopher 10/12/07)

I can understand the reason in doing this and would support it to some respect. However, I feel disappointed to have lost out and some of the character of the original show. Having said that, I do find it amusing how they suggest that Punch should put the baby in a cupboard. I think that instead of removing all of the violent parts (which is partly why the show is so loved and laughed at), it should be altered to more amusing ideas like the above. This would then update the show in a more interesting way. But would this strip the show of all it’s remembered and enjoyable elements or would this make it more relevant and acceptable for today’s audience?

On Wednesday 12th December, it was decided that all parents are banned from shaking their children, hitting them on the head or beating them with implements were approved by MSPs last night. These discussions over the past few years have lead to fewer ‘Punch and Judy’ shows to be performed. ‘Punch and Judy’ is a show that is seen to promote violence against children, when Punch says after he tricks and hurts another character, “That’s the way to do it”

However, there are also thoughts about bringing back Punch and Judy where BBC have done research and found out that the ‘Punch and Judy’ show is amongst of the nations favourite icons of Britain.

Charles Dickens

Another example of Punch and Judy’s presence in work is in Charles Dickens ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ (1841). It has been suggested that it has something of the structure of a traditional performance of ‘Punch and Judy’ and the story also includes a pair of Punch Puppeteers, Tom Codlin and Will Short.

Here are some examples of products, artefacts and writing that has been inspired by ‘Punch and Judy’,

Pictures to be inserted

Punch and Judy pottery by Wade
The stamps by Royal mail
Radio3 show
Lucky charms
The concept of the box and how that is used
Paul Klee hand puppets particular ones that he has made that are similar to Punch
Fancy dress parties-Punch outfit, at Shaun Bass’

GARP Punch and Judy Bibliography



Friedman, Martin 1983, David Hockney Paints the Stage, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London.

Greene, Vivien 1979; English Doll’s Houses of the 18th and 19th Century, Bell and Hyman Ltd, London.

Londei, John 2007, Shutting up Shop: The Decline of the Traditional Small Shop, Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, England.

Hopfengart, Christine 2006, Paul Klee Hand Puppets, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, Gemany.

Mackay, James 1976, Childhood Antiques, Taplinger Publishing, New York.

Fandry, Kenneth 1979, Pollock’s History of English Dolls and Toys, Ernest Benn Ltd, London

Ayres, James 1980, English Naïve Painting: 1750-1900, Thames and Hudson, London

Simmen, Rene 1975, The World of Puppets, Elsevier Phaidon, 5 Cromwell Place, London

DeVries, Leonard 1967, Little Wide Awake; An Anthology of Victorian Childrens’ Books and Periodicals, Arthur Barker Limited, London

King, Eileen 1973, Toys and Dolls for Collectors, Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, London

Barker, Ronnie 1986, A Pennyworth of Art ‘The Real Album’, The Herbert Press, London

Hart-Davis, Adam 2001, What the Victorians Did for Us, Headline Book Publishing, London



Jana’s Punch and Judy Show by Jan Lowsma 1997 9“ x 12“ miniature

Peggy Gamble Punch and Judy figures by Wade image of JS animation image of JS animation


The Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer, Kimstim Inc, 2005 New York


BBC Documentary, „ Animator of Prague“

Encarta Dictionary

GARP Punch and Judy, Introduction

Punch and Judy from the Victorians

Structure and Proposal of GARP
Emily Hayes

My interest, why I chose to study this area, what areas I will research and a little of what I know now

I will begin to tell you where my interest in Punch and Judy first came from;
My interest in Punch and Judy first developed in Year 5 at primary school where we were given a class project on ‘Victorian Entertainment’.
We looked at the children’s nurseries, the household, the seaside holidays, the clothes and many more aspects but the area that interested me the most was the Victorian Fairs.
I loved the lettering used, the range of performances and characters, the travelling sales people, the rides themselves, colours, atmosphere and of course, most importantly, the ‘Punch and Judy’ show.

From this age onwards, without being particularly conscious of it I began collecting books, soft toys, robots, ephemera and puppets either inspired or made in the Victorian period (most of these were found at the York car boot sale).
Over the years, I continued collecting gradually and became increasingly interested in them. My collection has been a major source of inspiration for my work and my puppets are often featured as characters in my illustrations.

Throughout collecting I have also been making puppets using Victorian puppetry making manuals all of which inspired by the Victorian fair. These range from a set of painted and stuffed calico, circus performers to papier-mâché people.

(Place in pictures here some of my homemade collections of puppets)

Just by looking at Punch and Judy puppet one can immediately identify what sort of character they will be purely by the way they look. I enjoy how such a small object can hold so much character and tell a story in itself. They can be used to perform a narrative, as though they are a 3D illustrations, this I find really interesting and is something I could develop further in my own work. Main section?

An aspect of the Punch and Judy shows I am really interested in is the appearance of the characters and sets, for example Punch’s big chin and nose or the bright stripes and colours on the theatres. I love the dramatic sets and how they are used in different ways. There are many variations in sets and puppets but they all seem to have the same distinct feel. How and why have they remained consistent?

I like the idea of having a portable show, like a travelling story, available anywhere, anytime. Despite the stories of Punch and Judy are much the same and there is little variation, the stories have been performed again and again. So how is it that they have remained so popular for such a long time?

The Punch and Judy show is a rich performance that is both stimulating visually and conceptually. The stories, characters and sets are distinctive and all play an equal part in the performance and this is what I think makes Punch and Judy so strong and easily recognisable. Why and how is this? What influenced the design and stories?

A year ago I visited the Pollock’s Toy Museum in London and really enjoyed looking at his collection. My interest in Punch and Judy developed further.
There were many examples of Punch and Judy characters, all different yet with the same distinctive features.
I hope to talk to Alan Powers, the Chairman of Trustees, about Pollock‘s collection and ask him some questions on Punch and Judy.
I would also like to look at Bethnal Green, The Museum of Childhood to have a look at their collection.

For my research, I will be predominantly concentrating on the Punch and Judy in the Victorian era in England, when the show was at its height of popularity.
I find it intriguing how the Victorians did not react dramatically to the violence involved with Punch and Judy shows yet when it came to social etiquette they would be incredibly prudish and disgusted if someone did not follow the rules. At times, the Victorians could be inconsistent and contradictory. Why is this?

However, today’s society is much the same. We frown upon the violence of the Punch and Judy shows yet television programmes have become more and more extreme and this seems perfectly acceptable. We seem to have double standards also.

The Victorian period was a time of extraordinary change with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, which altered the Victorians’ lives dramatically. It was an era of excitement, prosperity and frivolity. Many of the discoveries and developments and are the roots of what we have today.
I enjoy their interventions and enjoyment in embracing new technologies and using them in unusual ways. For example I like this ludicrous invention such, the velocipede shower, a shower ideal for getting fit whilst washing! Main section

(Insert picture of bike machine)

They had an odd sense of humour, which I can relate to.

It is no wonder the Victorians embraced the surreal Punch and Judy shows so strongly after all they were the ones who invented pianolas, musical boxes and seaside piers. But what was it really that made them so popular? Perhaps some of this can go in the main bit?

I am interested at looking at the origin of Punch and Judy yet this will not be the focus of the research as there are other aspects that I would like to look at in greater detail. It is relevant but not the main research element.

Doing this research is important for me as I believe that research is part of my work, whether it is conscious or not.
I am researching a subject I am passionate about and so I hope that this will filter through to enrich my work also.

I am not doing this research project to answer a particular question. I am researching to feed my brain and yours with information on this subject. I hope to be surprised and excited by what I find.

GARP Punch and Judy 5. Stories and characters

5. Stories and characters

A basic summary of what happens in the plots of Punch and Judy.
Have the stories changed gradually for different audiences and times?
What characters were there and what was their role? Were they used to represent anything in particular?

Punch is left on his own in charge of his baby. The baby gets hungry and tired and begins to cry. This strongly irritates Punch and so he picks the child up and beats its head violently against the stage. He thinks that this might send the child to sleep.
After hearing the noise, Judy arrives on the stage. She is furious with Punch and attacks him. Punch then becomes enraged and beats her with his stick to her death.
Punch picks up the two bodies and flings them outside the window towards the audience. As he is doing this he attracts the attention of a passing policeman.
The rest of the plot continues with Punch tricking his opponents that come in to contact with him, this is usually done with his stick.
Various characters enter the stage and interact with Punch with some sort of conflict arising at the end of each scene. For example the Clown may appear with a string of sausages for Punch to eat but then the Crocodile swoops in and eats them. Punch is then bitten on his big nose by the crocodile, which leads Punch in calling for a Doctor.
Whilst the Doctor is examining him, Punch gets much delight in kicking him in the face repeatedly.
Punch is put into prison but when he is about to be executed (for murdering Judy and the baby) he manages to persuade the Hangman to put his on head in the noose.
He is pleased at outwitting one of his fellow characters and calls out, “That’s the way to do it!”
This is only a loose framework for the story as it has altered through time. Also, the story is changed slightly each time a puppeteer does a performance. They do not have to stick to a script and have the freedom to make the story alter as go. Many puppeteers would have improvised the show as they went along. The performance may have been affected by the audiences’ response. The puppeteer may alter aspects to get a good reaction from the audience. Or he may have a small selection of puppets so would extend some of the scenes.
One part of the story was affected after the Hangman character was phased out. This may have been for a few reasons. Such as hangings were phased out also so it was less relevant to audiences of that time to have such a character.
The story was later adapted so that Punch escapes from prison and does not have to be hung at all.
The language of the play is coarse and often satirical.

(my drawings of the plot developing)


Main Characters

Mr Punch
Punch is a very important character and maintains the leading role in all the ‘Punch and Judy’ shows. He always carries his weapon with him, a big stick.
He is clever and crafty. Punch can manage to get himself out of compromising situations over and over again.

His character is fierce and aggressive;

“He delights in paradoxes and expresses his opinion without respect to priority and good manners; “the word shame does not enter his vocabulary.” Punch (Harrap,George,p324)

Punch is the only one to have legs, which means that he has an advantage over the other characters, for example, having the ability to kick, as he does when he kicks the doctor in the face whilst he is having an examination. Somehow, though, he is seen as a lovable rogue.

The choice of the name 'Punch' has been chosen deliberately. One thinks about a hole punch, a device to cut through layers, sharp and damaging, like the real 'Punch'. Or a punch done by a hand, violent but at the same time has a comical quality, this is also reflected in the character of Punch.
The name Punch is also from the Anglicized version of Pulcinello to Puncinella. (see Section 1 )

Judy is Punch’s wife and is the mother of their child. Judy was introduced to the show at the end of the 18th century.
She is not a particularly attractive and feminine woman.
At one point in time, Judy actually meant 'the tramp's woman'.
Her main role in the show is to look after her baby and to start fights with Punch when he abuses the baby. She receives a lot of physical abuse from Punch. He does not respect her.

This is the son of Punch and Judy. He is very young and has not yet learnt to speak. His role is to cry to make Punch get violent. He is the cause of the argyments between Punch and Judy.

This character is included in every show. His main role is to do examinations on Punch much to his irritation. Punch is horrible to him and makes him feel stupid.

Jack Catch, the Hangman
This character was phased out later (please refer to ‘Story’ section for more detail) He is named after an actual hangman.

Secondary Characters

Joey the Clown
Joey the Clown is Punch’s one and only true friend. He is the only character in the show Punch does not hit, nor does Joey hit anyone.
He is kind to Punch by bringing him sausages. Joey cannot say sausages instead he says “squasages”. This makes his character very lovable, as he is so innocent and gentle.
The name Joey is derived from the famous Victorian clown Joey Grimaldi.
He is used for slapstick comedy effect, to get some extra laughs from the audience.

The Devil
“A dangerous type, but deep down a fool” (Rene Simmen, p20). He is always red and black with a mischievous look on his face.
However, despite being this dark character Punch always “out-devils the devil” (Harrap, George, p324).
The Devil’s role is to hide behind Mr. Punch, who doesn't see him, to create tension in the show. The audience can see the Devil behind Punch and scream and shout to try to make him aware of the Devil. Eventually, Punch sees the Devil and he very frightened of him. Then the Devil disappears again after a while. This is an interlude in the show. Simply a device to stir the show up.
There was another end of the show years ago when Mr. Punch was carried off by the Devil.

Toby the dog/Crocodile
Joey the Clown bring sausages to Punch. He tells Punch to look after his sausages as Toby the dog is around. Toby is a very old character in the show and his aim is to try to get the sausages.
Eventually, he is replaced by the crocodile who does in fact get the sausages. The crocodile is the only character that really hurts Punch badly.
These plays a short but important role in the show.

Mr Beadle
Punch ridicules him and calls him 'the beetle in the porridge' (John Styles,
Mr Beadle is eventually replaced by the Policeman (see below).

This character is used to represent law and order. Sometimes he plays the alternative role of a gravedigger. (A versatile character!)
The officer’s role is to find Mr. Punch and arrest him although he keeps looking in al the wrong places and Punch keeps hiding from him. The children in the audience would shout out "he's behind you". This was a very comical and amusing moment for the audience.

The Waiter
This character is one of the first to be included as a supporting act in the show.

Some Italian characters of the puppet theatre inspire the creation of this character. He was originally used in performances as a surprise character.

The Court Clerk
Also, a surprise puppet. He was not used in many shows. He has a unusual feature, his extendable neck, which was used for special effect to excite and astonish the audience.

Hector is the hobby horse which Punch rides. Punch often falls off and and becomes injured. Punch then calls for the Doctor.

Pretty Polly
Punch’s “ bit on the side ” much to the annoyance of Judy. She is very attractive, slim and flirtacious. She was originally Punch's remorse after the death of Judy.

(Please note that for this section there will be a page for each character each with picture placed in over the text, which describes its character I will use ref number)

The Cast in General
One aspect I notice about the members of the cast is that it is predominantly male. The two females that are included play similar roles.
There are also many other charcater included which may be introduced at certain times of the year or whenever the puppeteer decides to change the show around a little bit.

GARP Punch and Judy 1. Origin


In this section I will research where and when the ‘Punch and Judy’ show began. What is the ‘Punch and Judy’ show? Who was the creator? What came before that may have influence the arrival of Punch and Judy? How were they made?

Let’s start with defining each of these words;


the : an adjective, the definite article, used before somebody or something that has already been mentioned or identified, or something that is understood by both the speaker and hearer, as distinct from “a” or “an”


Punch n
a character from traditional children’s puppet shows. He is a red-cheeked, hook-nosed clown who behaves in a quarrelsome or aggressive manner.
See also Punchinello

punch 2 n
1. a tool used to make holes in something
2. a tool that is hit to stamp a design on something or to cut something to a particular shape
3. the die or solid part of a punch, containing the stamping or cutting tool
4. a tool used to knock a bolt or rivet out of a hole

1. to make a hole in something using a punch
2. to stamp or cut something using a punch

punch3 n
a drink made with a mixture of fruit juice and often spices and wine or liquor
punch card or punched card n
a card with patterns of holes punched in it, used to store information in early computers and telex machines


Ju·dy n
the wife of Punch in a traditional Punch-and-Judy puppet show


and : a conjunction used to indicate an additional thing, situation, or fact. “And” in this case links words and phrases of the same grammatical value. conj

a word used in computer technology to link two or more items that must occur together


show v
1. vti to cause or allow something to come into view
2. vti to be visible or allow something to be seen easily
3. vti to put on an exhibition or performance or to present something for the public to see
4. vti to present something for sale to the public
5. vt to guide or accompany somebody
6. vt to call somebody’s attention to something
7. vt to make somebody’s or something’s fundamental qualities or characteristics evident
8. vt to explain, demonstrate, or prove something in a logical way
9. vt to give a demonstration of something in order to teach others
10. vt to register information
11. vt to display a personal feeling or attitude
12. vi to have a particular appearance when being viewed
13. vi to put in an appearance at a place (informal)
14. vi to finish at least third in a race, especially a horse race or a dog race
15. vt to allege or plead something in a legal document

1. an expression or demonstration of something
2. a public entertainment such as a theater performance, movie, or radio or television program
3. an exhibition, for example, of art, flowers, animals, or an industry’s products
4. U.K. See fair
5. an appearance given, either as an outward display of an emotion or trait, or as a demonstration of falseness and pretense
6. an undertaking or task, especially one of some size and complexity (informal)
7. an extravagant or impressive display
8. a display or exhibition designed to evoke laughter or ridicule
9. a third place finish in a race, especially a horse race or a dog race
10. Australia, New Zealand, U.S. a chance or opportunity (informal)
11. a trace of something indicating its presence, for example, oil in the ground
12. a bloody mucous discharge indicating the onset of labor in childbirth

What is the ‘Punch and Judy’ show?

‘Punch and Judy’ is an English puppet show featuring Punch and Judy, a quarrelsome couple, together with a large number of other characters that join in the fun. It is a live comedy performed by a puppeteer from booth for children. This is performed at fairs, parties and on the beach. The children are intended to interact by shouting out various phrases through out the show.

When was the birth of the ‘Punch and Judy’ show?

Mr Punch’s birthday is considered to be on May 6, 1662 when Samuel Pepys wrote about the performance of ‘Punch and Judy’ in his diary. This is the earliest written description the show in England.
In these diary extracts, Pepys, an English naval administrator, describes the first English performance of Punch. This was performed by an Italian puppeteer, Pietro Gimonde operating as "Signor Bologna",
" Italian puppet play, that is within the rails there, which is very pretty, the best that I ever saw, and great resort of gallants." (Pepys, Samuel)
In his diary Pepys also says that he saw this performance at St. Paul's Church in London's Covent Garden.
Pepys went return to the shows many times and continued to be amused by this new entertainment. Pepys saw one of the first performances that were done in within a tent. The performance was done with a marionette and not a puppet glove, what they all gradually came to be.

However, many different claims have been made to when and where exactly the ‘Punch and Judy’ show came from and when exactly.

(insert pic p11 World of Puppets)

There are examples of puppet theatres being used back in the 14th century as illustrated above.
Puppetry has been around for hundreds of years including

The story has been handed down generation by generation so there is no one author. It has developed over the years with a variety of people involved in its creation.

One theory is that 'Punch and Judy' can be traced from the 16th century to Italian commedia dell'arte. Commedia dell'atre was improvised theatre that began in the 15th century. It remained popular up until the 18th century. Commedia dell'arte is italian for play of professional artists. Some are still performed today. Anyone was free to watch the performances and were all completely free. They were all outside with just a few props, which were usually masks and costumes. The actors consisted of seven men and three women always.

(insert images here that shows similarities betweent he two)

Pulcinella is a character from commedia dell’atre. He is a character that inspires the creation of Punch. Although Pulcinella differs in appearance , he is dressed in white and wears a black mask, they have many similarities Just like Punch, Pulcinella had extremely long nose, which resembles a beak.
‘Pulcinella’ was then adapted to the English tongue to give the name ‘Punch’. Pulcinella later became a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry aslo.
I decided to investigate the roots and meaning of the name ‘Pulcinella’. I found that it had derived from the word "Pulliciniello" which has derived from the Latin ‘pullus gallinaceus’, which means beak. Furthermore it is related to the Italian pulcino or chick. Therefore, one could say that the name ‘Punch’ derives from the description of his nose as a beak of a bird.

Further Theories

Magnin compares Punch to King Henry VIII, not particularly in appearance but in character. Both are stubborn and brutal. They like to get what they want and are determined and ruthless in getting it.
Punch was also thought to represent The Lord of Misrule, in Scotland was known as the Abbot of Unreason of the 16th century. He was generally a peasant or put in charge of Christmas revelries, which included wild partying and drunkenness. This was in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia.

Furthermore, Punch is thought to be a represent the mythological figures, “Tricksters”. In the study of folklore and religion a ‘Trickster’ is essentially a good spirited human or anthropomorphic animal who disobeys the rules of normal behaviour, is mischievous and performs pranks. This is perhaps why we find it hard to hate Punch as we know that deep down he has a heart and he seems unaware how his behaviour and actions really affect others.

Punch is known throughout the world, here are the names for Punch by different nationalities

Country Name
England Punch
France Polchinella or Le Guignol
Dutch Jan Klaassen
Austria Kaspar
Russia Petrushka
Germany Hans Wurst (John Sausage)

(Pictures of people from nationality and their version of Punch)

GARP Punch and Judy 3.Sets, Types of Puppet Theatres and Audiences

3. Sets, Types of Puppet Theatres and Audiences

This section will mainly be about the context of the Punch and Judy.
I will look mainly at the Victorian Society; their need for entertainment, the fairs, the shows, the theatre and general excitement. This was the age at which Punch at Judy was at the height of its popularity. So why did the Victorians like it so much?
Where and when were they shown?
How did the Victorians react to the violent nature of the shows? This will be an interesting aspect to look at.
What did the sets look like? Why were they decorated in a particular way? Where does the design originate? What are its links with theatre? Who were the performances for? Were the performances altered for different audiences?


With the arrival of train travel in many exciting possibilities were now available for the Victorians to visit and experience places they had never been to before; this was a liberating time. Ordinary people were beginning to have money and they wanted to use it to enjoy themselves.
Until Thomas Cook had organised the world’s first advertised excursion train trip, on 5 July 1841, we had never had the concept of a ‘holiday’ before. This was a completely new idea for the Victorian people and they embraced it; they became “pleasure seekers” (Hart-David, Adam, p104).

One place the Victorians enjoyed travelling to were the fairs, held in many cities over Britain.
This is one place where ‘Punch and Judy’ shows were often performed. The fairs were a major source of income for the people that ran them. They attracted herds of people from all classes; from well-heeled, bourgeois businessmen to cheapjacks, pickpockets and prostitutes. The atmosphere of the fairs has been described as, “exciting, explosive and often menacing and violent” (Cameron, David, p1).

‘Punch and Judy’ was a seen as “public show” and so everyone was invited and there was virtually no segregation. This was quite unusual for the Victorians as there had always been a strong class divide. The ‘Punch and Judy’ show represented shared pleasure amongst all classes.
Everyone that came to the fairs, no matter what class, dressed in their finest clothes. They wanted to look their best for their special day out. Crowds and crowds came flocking in to be entertained and overjoyed by the rides and performances. It is believed that even geese came to the fairs! One theory is that Nottingham’s fair was eventually called Nottingham’s Goose Fair due to vast numbers of geese, “in fine flocks from the stubbles from miles around” (Cameron, David p132) were attracted to the fair over many years. Perhaps it was all the food left out?

(Insert picture from book, ‘The English Fair’, p132)

At these fairs there were a variety of shows and spectacles, from

In London last week and saw a traditional but they are not used in the same way as they were with the Victorians as we have become used to old technologies and so it has lost the excitement for many people.


The seaside was another destination were a ‘Punch and Judy’ show would have been found. The seaside was also a holiday resort for the Victorians; many people chose to spend their holidays here. Scarborough, Whitby, Brighton and Blackpool are amongst some of the “leisure capitals” and beach destinations that were very popular and many still are today. Many of which have their original Victorian features in place and in use.
As well as ‘Punch and Judy’ shows other entertainment was available, such as donkey riding, to keep everyone happy.

(Pictures of some of these destinations and Victorian features eg, Whitby with donkeys etc)

(pictures of huts on beach)


Structure of Set

(insert picture from World of Puppets p20)

There are many variations of ‘Punch and Judy’ set design however they all have the following features in common;

The set of a ‘Punch and Judy’ replicates a traditional theatre set but on small scale.

(Insert picture of theatre from ‘A Concise History of the Theatre’ p108-109)

This is a very large-scale stage, elaborately decorated.

( next to/ under this image insert a picture of a ‘Punch and Judy’ set to show similarities)

The body of a ‘Professor’ is hidden behind a material made from velvet that is soft to the touch, which is wrapped around a wooden square framed structure. The Professor is hidden here so as the audience can imagine that the puppets are real living creatures and not just controlled by a human.

Decoration of Sets

Many of the sets were decorated with red and white stripes or sometimes red and yellow. Why is this?

Or perhaps it was influenced by the deck chairs on the beach.

Picture of deck chair

The colours used on the sets were very bright and bold, such as cadmium red combined with a rich yellow and sky blue. One can see these colours used in Victorian advertising and decoration

(insert some photos below for examples)

Target Audience

The shows performed as though they are for children but I think that the content is really meant for adults. All the reference points and influences for the show (see section 1. Origins) are from mature and adult material such as Commedia dell’arte, which was theatre purely meant for an adult audience.
The shows contain much violence and many bad lessons that parents would not like to teach their children. However, hitting your child was much more acceptable for the Victorians for example, a teacher was allowed to hit a pupil when they had misbehaved. It would not have been so shocking for young children to see. This was just how society was at that time.
The Victorians were very open-minded in some ways but in others they were very prudish. For example they were very accepting of the violence used in the Punch and Judy shows yet when it came to getting changed on the beach they needed special bathing chambers and clothes that were unrevealing.

(Insert picture of the bathing machine used at Margate, p108, The English Fair)

These were used in the smarter of the resorts. You were able to take a bathing machine from the top of the beach and could then be wheeled down to the water’s edge. Then with the power of one or two strong men would help you take an stimulating plunge into the sea.

Yet, postcards that were made and very popular in the Victorian times were quite vivacious and naughty. Some showed violent scenes and others show their surreal sense of humour.
The Victorians had a real mix of characteristics. On the one hand they were very cautious and sensible but on the other they are

Here are some examples

(insert pictures of postcards from a ‘A Pennyworth of Art’, ‘Fantasy Postcards’ and some from my own collection such as “If you visit here I’ll give you the glad eye.”)

These postcards have been an immense source of inspiration for me. If I am ever stuck for ideas I look through these collections and usually ideas come to me (touch wood!).

Many shows were also shown on the beach. This attracted yet more crowds to the beaches for their holidays.


A single puppeteer, known as a Professor, traditionally performed the ‘Punch and Judy’ show. A famous Professor that was well known amongst puppeteers was Professor Green.

(Insert image p29 “A Pennyworth of Art”)

Sometimes in the shows they used live animals to interact with the puppets as you can see in this show by Professor Green. One show in the 17th century, Mr Punch is known to have danced with a trained pig.

A technique of puppetry, which was adapted for the ‘Punch and Judy’ shows, was called ‘Picklehaering’ or translated to English is ‘pickle herring’. This is where the hand is put inside the puppet, thereby moving the body, head and arms. This technique was from a Germany puppet show made in 1744 by Frisch called “Meister Haemmerlain”.

(Place in pic of pickle herring + hands)

Another device the Professor would have used was a swazzle. This device is put into the mouth to make a strange noise, similar to the sound of a kazoo. This was used to make the weird noises of the characters in Punch and Judy. I think this may have been used to detachand distort the puppeteers voice from the puppet. This is so the audience imagine the puppet is its own character rather than just having a human voice.
However, some people are able to produce a brilliantly clear voice for Punch without the use of a Swazzle. One advantage is clarity but this without the use of the swazzle lacks the hard rasp of a swazzle-produced voice and also the ear-splitting trumpet-like quality of the noises that an enraged Punch emits.

(Picture of a kazoo)

(Picture of a swazzle)

Here is how to make a swazzle of your own

(Insert images and construction by Richard Landon)

One could have even attended a ‘Swazzle Clinic Workshop’ at Puppet Fest 2005 at Concordia University, Minnesota State Capito, USA with Glyn and Mary Edwards.