Friday, August 1, 2008

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of a Missing Swazzle

It’s a sorry and sad tale to tell but I can not find my favorite swazzle. I made it by hand like I did all my other swazzles and like all my other swazzles, its sound is unique. So unique, in fact, that I tie each one together with a different color string so I can tell them apart. This one was my first and most successful swazzle—it is tied with pink thread. I just made the others in case I swallowed or lost this one. The adventures of the Pink Swazzle are quite long and dazzling. Its debut was in ‘Puppets, Puppets, Puppets” a variety show I did with Thistle Theatre. Punch and Judy was a puppet show within a puppet show and was performed toward the end of the show—only the Judy and Baby Bits. It was for this show that I made the first spare swazzle and during one show I spat out the pink one (yes, sometimes I get so excited that I spit out swazzles) and replaced it with the spare to finish out the show. Jean Enticknap mentioned it afterwards and told me that the voice changed so much between swazzles that it was like a friend going away.

The pink swazzle finally performed at Greenwood after the previous Punch Professor moved on to Ballroom Dancing (no joke—hobbyists are like that). That year, my pink swazzle went missing during tear down on Sunday and I was very distressed. But metal detectors were ‘In’ that year and the moment the faire closed about a half a dozen metal hounds showed up on site to find all the gypsy bangles and such. I flagged one down and had him search my performance area. Luckily, he found it. I’d been eyeballing the ground for a fruitless hour and a half and was rather upset at loosing my pink swazzle friend so I was so grateful to him! The swazzle was a little dirty but I cleaned it up and it was no worse for it.

I also learned my lesson that setting my swazzle on my puppet box between shows was a really bad idea. To prevent future disasters such as that, I got a little green leather pouch (you aren’t supposed to keep swazzles in something air tight) which I wore at all times about my neck. I had my little pink buddy in there plus my green and orange spares. My blue spare I sewed into Punch himself in a little Chinese snap pouch—an idea I picked up from a Punch and Judy book.

But then, sometime this winter, I went and lost my green pouch! (see picture above) I tore the house upside down looking for it. But no luck…it was gone.

What could I do? I dug out the blue swazzle and undid it, retooled it, remade it over and over—trying to get it to sound right. I made a new one I wrapped in tan, which almost sounded good until 2 minutes before the show when it began to sound like he had a cold. I couldn’t fix it then…so Punch was sick that show. It’s all in how you bend it, plus the size of it and the tightness of the tape. I rewrapped it between shows and the second show was better but…in reality, my Punch has lost his squeak! It’s like another puppeteer taking over a previous puppeteer’s role. For example, the guy who’s doing Miss Piggy’s voice now is pretty good, but he’s no Frank Oz.

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