A treasure trove of characters at Puppet Planet on Wandsworth Road
I’m not sure if there is a puppet connection with Wandsworth, but this is the second time I’ve come across a veritable treasure trove of puppets in the area. The first was when I researched my dissertation on puppetry (don’t ask*) at the Puppet Library in Clapham Junction**.
The second – the shop, performance space and party hire venue, Puppet Planet – caught my eye as I rode past in a bus along the Wandsworth road…
I got off at the next stop and doubled back a bit to investigate. Going inside, it looked like an old fashioned toy shop with shelves full of puppets from around the world; from vintage collector’s items to child friendly finger puppets as well as everything in between…
Marionettes and other puppets are festooned floor to ceiling in the mid-section of the shop, and as you go through to the back there is a room with a black and gold toy theatre, used for puppet shows, performances, even puppet workshops!
I got talking to the lady in the shop – Lesley Butler – and it turns out she not only owns the shop but also performs with puppets herself. Professionally known as Professor Baguette, she also plays a character clown, The Bag Lady. (‘Professor’ is a term used by those who animate and give voices to Punch and Judy characters.)
*I wonder if it is a family interest! My mum had an exhibition of drawings and photographs relating to Punch and Judy man, Leslie Press
**I can’t find any reference to the Puppet Library any more – it was years ago that I visited – but I did find a real life puppet library in New York where you can borrow the puppets themselves!