The Geoff Felix Punch and Judy Booth
During a recent visit to Chris Somerville's Harlequin Puppet Theatre, with tremendous generosity Professor Geoff Felix allowed Chris to take a series of photographs showing details of his booth and revealing his solutions to various problems. He agreed to their publication on this website, and added the following explanatory notes:|
(You can click on a small picture or Figure Number to see an enlarged view. Use your browser back-button to return to this page.)
Like old time performers I don't have a car so my booth has to be portable enough to use on public transport. This also keeps the baggage cost down when travelling abroad. Fig 1
The booth Fig 3 follows the "lazy tongs" principle developed by the late George Blake.Fig 8 The photographs are self explanatory but several features might be of interest. The side bars and proscenium sides are attached using pin hinges. The pins are coathanger wire and are attached to the frame with small chains. I always carry a spare pin just in case.
The large cloth servante fig 4 is useful for dumping the puppets without causing damage to the faces, especially when working on concrete. It also prevents people who are lifting the canvas from seeing inside, and is also used, while packing, to cover the puppets in the suitcase before the booth canvas is removed.
The backcloth is linen. Fig 5 As I work hands-in-front-of-face I need a good blackout for concealment, hence the drapes. The roof is lined with black.
The canvas has a strong tent zip at the back and runs from the bottom upwards, thus, when closed the tag is at the top and well out of reach of small hands. The canvas is held taut at the front by a length of curtain wire below the playboard.
The amplifier Fig 6 was recommended to me by Martin Bridle. It is a Carpax compact public address amplifier, model FPA-15, 20 Watts, and is operated by eight AA 1.5 batteries. The michrophone and lead are stored in the amplifier box. The speaker is attached by a wingnut to a bar joined to the top proscenium. I find trying to attach the wingnut the most irritating part of the whole procedure.
Guy ropes are attached to the double screw eyes on the upper bars.
The puppets, sound system, canvas and proscenium side pieces are packed in the suitcase.Fig 2 I made a carrying bag from ticking, with webbing handles, to carry the frame. The upper proscenium is attached to the carrying bag by means of straps with velcro.
I originally had a Dennison folding sack truck Fig 8 which was ideal,lighweight and very strong. The one shown is heavier.The truck and the covers are placed in the suitcase which is attached inside to the side bar to give stability in windy conditions.
The velvet drapery at the front is attached by velcro. The playboard is plywood with beading at the front, top and sides. I have felt, for awhile now, that it could be improved as it is not too strong and tends to droop. I normally attach the velvet drape so that it is raised at the front. Punch's stick will rest on this and is less inclined to slide forward.
The show takes approximately 20 minutes to set-up, not allowing for interuptions.
Geoff Felix 2002