|Punch's 350th Anniversary (thanks to Rod Burnett for pic)
"That's the way to do it!" exclaims Punch, who is still alive and well and celebrating his 350th in Covent Garden, London this weekend. I am so sorry that we are stuck in rainy Melbourne, instead of celebrating with all the professors in sunny London, but I guess I did attend the 325th, twenty-five years ago, which was wonderful (see the post here).
Punch has come a long way since his Commedia dell'arte origins. In fact he has traveled the full gambit across the universe, mostly taking the part of the underdog and standing up for their cause. He hasn't always been permitted free expression as he is in some limited parts of the world today. In eighteenth century England, actor, writer and puppeteer Samuel Foote took his Punch and Judy Show onto the streets of London to critique the British Monarchy, after actors criticizing the monarchy had been banned. When the police came to arrest him, he calmly stated: "It wasn't I that said a word, it was these puppets here that should be arrested!" You can find more examples of the general intolerance to the beloved anarchist here.
You can view the BBC's 350th tribute here. I suppose all we can do now is plan to attend the next Big Bash for Punch's 375th in 2037. See you all in 2037?