25 December 2005

Tribute to great British Puppeteer and Historian

I have the sad duty of announcing the passing of a great British tradition - puppeteer, historian and author, George Speaight, at the age of ninety-one on 22 December. I had the pleasure of meeting George Speaight only one time in my life and I shall never forget it. It was in Covent Garden at the 325th anniversary celebrations of Punch and Judy in 1987. I was there performing my Puns en Doedie (Puppets Against Apartheid) along with more than 150 other Punch Professors in London and Speaight (dressed up as 17th century writer and historian, Samuel Pepys - see the front row in the above photograph).
Speaight, who is best known for his master work, A History of the English Puppet Theatre, written in 1955, once described himself as a “frustrated actor”, but while he may never have enjoyed whatever glamour the large stage has to offer, he did enjoy the independence of the small one, where everything could be under his own control. His big, but adaptable, voice and his ebullient personality made him a master showman, and he was generous in his help to all who shared his affection for theatrical history. You can find the full Speaight story here! (My thanks to Ray De Silva, UK)