MARK WINFIELD

Full Member of The Ventriloquist Club of Great Britain

- Watch Mark's Live Fun Comedy Ventriloquist Performance

and Showreel Clip 

- via Youtube! -

 http://youtu.be/JH0_cEl4PMM 

 

From a young age I was always interested in ‘Showbiz’ and loved being taken to see Variety Shows wherever I would be on holiday with my parents.  I loved to see the ‘old entertainers’ like Arthur Worsley, Tommy Trafford, Tommy Cooper and Max Wall - Max Wall was a good friend of my uncle, Johnny Moxham, who was also an entertainer. 

I remember one night, we were in the Cliffbridge Hotel, Scarborough, waiting to go and see a Show with Max Wall on the bill. I was waiting in the hotel lobby when this man walked right passed me.  I looked up at him and said: “ EXCUSE ME SIR, ARE YOU MAX WALL?”  He looked down at me and said: “That’s right son!” -  I  said: “YOU KNOW MY UNCLE!” – “Who’s your Uncle?” he said – “JOHNNY MOXHAM” I  said  - “Go and get your mother and father!”

I ran to get my parents and he had a quick chat with them.  He then invited us back to his Dressing Room after the Show and I remember him letting me try on his big boots and teaching me how to do the ‘funny walk’ up and down his Dressing Room floor!  What good old days!  Sadly most of the old Music Hall ‘masters’ have gone now. 

The next evening, we went to see a show in Bridlington and on the bill was Ventriloquist Neville King – Fantastic!  I was hooked!  I remember for weeks afterwards saving up pocket money and going to local building sites to climb up scaffolding and steal the builders ‘pop’ bottles to get the deposit back on them!  Oh what fun!  And I saved up the money in no time! 

The next problem was to find a shop that sold Vent Dolls.  A next door neighbour told me that he had seen one in a Joke Shop in Blackpool - about one hour’s drive away!  So it was off to beg my dad take me to Blackpool!  About a week later, my dad found the time to take me to the Joke Shop to buy the Dummy.  I remember getting to the Joke Shop on the Pier and looking in the window at the Ventriloquist Dummy.  It was a MR PARLACHIN - common in the 1970s - complete with black pants, chequered jacket and cap.  We went into the shop and I asked the shopkeeper for one of the Vent Dolls that he had available for sale. “Sorry son, sold out!” said the shop keeper. I said:  “WHAT ABOUT THE ONE IN THE WINDOW?”  “Oh! That’s for display only” he said.  Some tears later, and telling him that we had come a very long way to get here, he relented and said: “OK – But you will get me into trouble!” 

I spent hours and hours with that Vent Doll on my lap, looking in to a mirror, practicing to combat lip control.  I remember a year or so later being sent home from school with a letter for my parents saying the Headmaster wanted to see them - and me - at a meeting.   When we got to the Headmaster’s Office I remember there was the Speech Therapist there.  He told my parents that he thought that there was a problem with me - the Speech Therapist said: “He doesn’t move his lips when he is talking to us!”  You see, I had been using school-time to learn my Venting skills!  That was unfortunately that!  The Vent Doll was taken from me and I only got it back at holidays - and some weekends.

I kept on practicing Ventriloquism into my late ‘teens and then gave it up as I did not want my friends know what my pastime was.  I went on to be an Engineer, a part-time Fire-fighter and tried many different jobs over the years.  I even worked as a Coal Miner!  I must have had more jobs than the ‘fugitive’ Richard Kimble on that American TV Programme, shown years ago!   My last job was driving an articulated truck long distances until unfortunately I had a bad accident loading a trailer one day and suffered a serious head injury.  After years of recovery, I was soon on the lookout for a new career path to take -  then, happily, I came across a Drama Course being advertised.  I enrolled on the 3-year course and then went on to get my Equity Card.  But my problem with acting was remembering the long Monologues, due to the after-effects of my head injury.

Time went on and I was only getting the odd small parts here and there (not like a girl I was at school with - Jane Horrocks - she has done very well indeed in the acting world!)   So it was time for me to have a career ‘rethink’ - and – of course - it was staring me right in the face!   What about Ventriloquism?  Can I still do it?  There was only one way to find out so I found a Puppet Maker on the Internet and ordered one to be made for me.

When the parcel came in the post I opened it up and to my surprise I could still do it!   I have kept it up ever since and truly love it - The only trouble is finding Variety work in Ireland - as most bookers here prefer Bands.  And so, if any one reading this is based in Ireland - and is looking for a Ventriloquist – Please give me a call! -  

 

For Bookings & Further Details:

Contact Tel:  Mark Winfield - Ireland:  085 8205424 

 - or from the UK:  00 353 85 8205424

 

 

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