Puppet Prop

About this object

History of use

Punch and July is a well-known puppetry tradition in England, UK. The first recorded show took place in London in 1662, but the tradition dates back to 16th century Italian commedia dell’arte and the character Punchinello. The performance is a series of skits full of humour, violent episodes, political satire, and puns, with audience participation encouraged. The main characters are Mr. Punch, his long-suffering wife Judy, their baby, and a host of set characters: the Policeman, the Devil, the Ghost, the Doctor, the Crocodile, Joey the Clown, Toby the Dog, etc. (from Shadow, Strings & Other Things, 2019). One of the unique characteristics of the puppet, Mr. Punch, is his high-pitched squawking voice: he screeches his punchline, again and again: “yes, that’s the way to do it!” as he gleefully abuses his fellow puppets. His disturbing voice is achieved by the puppeteer or ‘professor’, as they are known in Punch and Judy culture, using a metal device, held in the mouth, called a swazzle or a swatchel.

Physical description

Puppet voice prop called a swazzle, from a Punch and Judy puppet show. Made of two thin, rectangular pieces of aluminum wrapped in cotton tape. Cotton looped around the exterior with a single strand running through the middle, separating the two pieces of aluminum. Centre of metal pieces bend outwards slightly, giving the swazzle an irregular oval-shape. Bends also create space between the metal pieces and central piece of cotton tape separating them. Thin looped thread attached to exterior cotton tape on the left side.