This blog has been set up in order to explore, analyse, and share views and information about the anarchic energy in the figure of Mr. Punch and his transgressive role in society, as well as the decline of such role through the cultural appropriation of that figure by the bourgeoisie towards the second half of the19th century. Since then, Punch and Judy shows have been relegated to a status of mere children's entertainment, appealing to adult audiences through nostalgia.
The Puppet Punch embodies a long popular tradition in European folk culture. Its energy, as I will explore later, emanates from the deep roots of human nature, defined by Nietzsche as the Dionysian and analysed by Bakhtin through his carnivalesque theories. Industrialisation was a turning point for the figure of Mr. Punch, as it voiced the concerns of an emergent working class.
Mr. Punch is an iconic British symbol and its history can be traced back to 1662, when Samuel Pepys first recorded in his diary his attendance to the puppet play in Covent Garden. Indeed Mr. Punch is one of the best representatives of London's popular theatre, and by the end of the 17th century “he became a permanent entertainer at the fairs and streets of the city; with his violence, his vulgarity, and his sexual innuendo he was a recognisable urban character “(Ackroyd, 2000, p. 149)
I will frame my analysis within the 350th anniversary celebrations that took place in Covent Garden in May 2012, in an attempt to discover where and how that anarchic spirit has survived in London's entertainment.
I have divided this study into several pages on different topics which I consider relevant, in order to invite any comments or discussions on any of those areas.