Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

MAY 2, 2018 (two shows, times below), No Tickets Required, Free and Open to the Public

Professor Horn’s Punch & Judy Show (Photography by Bryan Burris. Reprinted with permission of 
Baltimore magazine, December 2002)Photography by Bryan Burris.
Reprinted with permission of
Baltimore magazine, December 2002.

Whittall Pavilion

Professional puppeteer and magician Professor Horn (Mark Walker) will present two programs of Punch and Judy puppeteering.

10:30-11:00 am

This is a special children’s show and is geared to 4-9 year olds in entertainment and content. This show is co-sponsored by the Young Reader’s Center.

12 noon to 1:00 pm

This event is aimed at a general adult audience. Mark Walker will give a short lecture on the history and traditions of Punch and Judy puppeteering and will display hand-carved puppets and other items from his personal collection of historical Punch and Judy items. After the lecture, he will perform a historically traditional Punch & Judy show.

Punch and Judy puppet shows have their roots in Italian commedia dell'arte. They have entertained English-speaking audiences at least since the 1660s, when Samuel Pepys attended a show in London. The Punch and Judy show draws on ancient folkloric trickster traditions, ideas from medieval carnival, and outrageous slapstick humor. At first intended for adults, the shows have been adapted for children since at least the 19th century.

The earliest known Punch and Judy show in Maryland was by an itinerant conjuror noted in January 1783 in Fell’s Point, Baltimore, offering sleight-of-hand skills and "a whimsical play starring Punchinello." In April 1897, James Edward Ross learned the show from magician and puppeteer Spaff Hyman at Pat Harris's Dime Museum on Baltimore Street. Ross took the stage name "Professor Rosella," and presented Punch & Judy puppet shows throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Rosella was seen by foreign diplomats, national dignitaries, and even president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said Rosella performed the best Punch & Judy show he had ever seen. Rosella taught the art of Punch & Judy to other entertainers, among them George Horn, who became a noted Punch & Judy performer at the famous Club Charles in Baltimore. In 1963, Mark Walker saw Horn's act as part of a school group. It made a lifelong impression, and 20 years later Walker learned the act from Horn and received his blessing to continue this unbroken Maryland tradition using the stage name "Professor Horn."

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.