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The Punch and Judy Fellowship
Report on the October 2009 Punch & Judy Festival by Mark Andrews

The PJF’s three day festival  - Mr. Punch and Friends - was held in the historic city of Lincoln under the expert guidance of committee members Prof John Thursby and Prof Clive Chandler. It was funded with money from Lincoln BIG (Business Improvement Group) topped up by a sum from the PJF coffers (inc a sum from The Big Grin) plus money from Lincoln Castle. Clive then made a PJF application to Arts Council England to double the budget. This proved successful and allowed the PJF to mount a substantial event in the year of Mr. Punch’s 350th birthday.

Over the three days there were 60 performances from 8 Punch Professors working alongside 4 international companies. As well as non-stop Punch shows, there were Giant Dancing Puppets accompanied by a live band parading around the streets, and a puppet-making workshop where members of the public could make their own take-away puppet.  Performers came from Italy and Portugal with Mr Punch’s cousins Pulcinella and Dom Roberto.  There were robust street marionettes from Belgium and exquisite puppets from Hungary. With an eye to the continuation of the tradition, seasoned performers supported young Joseph Peek (aged 9). This was all enjoyed by thousands of smiling people.

Events took place up and down the main High Street and around a specially constructed beach in City Square.  On the Sunday things moved up to castle grounds and the streets approaching the castle. Everything was outdoors and free (apart from an admission to the castle grounds on Sunday).

Our international guests were András Lenart (Mikropodium )from Budapest in Hungary, Marc Beuten from Brugge in Belgium, Jose Gil (S.A.Marionetas) from Alcobaca in Portugal and Irene Vecchia from Naples in Italy.

Mr. Punch’s Profs were John Thursby, Clive Chandler, Chippy Wood, Dan Slater, Rod Burnett, Martin Bridle, Paul Wheeler, and Joseph Peek. Cath Conolly provided the puppet making workshop.

As well as all the public performances, one of the joys of a well-organised festival is to sit down and eat and drink with everybody.  This took place on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, with the Saturday event being a meal in John’s local pub paid for by the festival where the landlord did everyone proud with Lincolnshire sausages and where Jose Gil gave an impromptu performance of Rosa and Her Three Lovers to the amusement of all. There was a very strong sense of international friendship and a real recognition of the importance of the Punch and Judy Fellowship in bringing ‘punch people’ together.

Click here to see a gallery of photos