The time to organise this year’s mystery play at penkhull is here. But people need to get involved. After fifteen years of hard work some of the organisers are standing down. We have various deadlines and need to decide by early February whether it’s going ahead. The committee are meeting tonight and hopefully those that were involved and are involved or might want to be involved will attend. It takes a lot of effort from over 400 people to put the day on. The centre of it is usually a Mystery Play although a couple of years ago we had a ‘fallow’ year where there was no play, but the rest of the day went ahead. I guess people are busy, but it would be good to keep it going….
I did these sketches tonight because I’m part of urban sketchers. These were drawn at the Mystery play barn dance up at Penkhull village hall. The band laying were called the Shropshire Hero’s and the barn dance caller was Baz Parkes.
It was excellent fun although I was helping behind the bar for part of it. Just watching people dance was great. Some do well, others make mistakes. The worst thing that happened was someone accidentally stood on my foot. But that was because I was drawing, and I think I was a bit in the way, so I wasn’t looking and got stood on. I was more worried because the dancer almost fell over me!
The other problem with drawing dancers? You guessed it.. They don’t stand still!
Who fancies coming to a Barn dance up at Penkhull village hall, Stoke-on-Trent on 19.10.19? It’s in aid of the annual Penkhull Mystery Play, next due to happen in July 2020. A huge community project that includes theatre, creative writing, music and FUN !
There’s dancing and spinning, hornpipes and all sorts of mad frivolities at the Barn Dance. Plus pie and peas (and a vegetarian option), oh and yes there’s a real ale bar.
The band is the Shropshire Heroes and the caller is the inimitable Baz Parkes who cajoles and explains the steps of the dances, gets the right numbers of people to join in and encourages people to miraculous efforts, including me!
So if you happen to be in Penkhull on the 19th and you are feeling energetic, why not come along?
This is a papier mache hill I made out of willow withies covered in newspaper and glue. The idea was to depict the last ice age. I painted a couple of wolves in the distance. This was another mystery play a few years ago. Set in the area which then became Penkhull. It was about the way the village evolved and the town surrounding it. I don’t remember much about the play except it had Romans and Celts in it, then victorians and a riot. We seem to riot a lot in the plays!
I wonder what we will be doing next year.
I couldn’t take photos myself of the mystery play as I was busy setting up, then performing and finally taking down the show. These photos are courtesy of my friends Lorraine and Dean.
We started at 9am and finished around 6pm. You have to take props down to the green from the village hall. The volunteers then built three scaffolding towers to hang my backdrops off and to attach the wheel that had been made. Also to rest props on. Then the stools and tables had to come over. The chairs for the audience and choir and seating for fifty children from the drama school. In addition there were 18 stalls for crafts and food, gazebos for the various volunteers and changing room. A pa system, other things I can’t remember, and the roads had to be closed with barriers. After the play there were other performances including the titchy theatre. By the time we had taken everything down afterwards it was 6pm and everyone was exhausted, hence going out for a Thai meal rather than cooking. I’m shattered.
16 short stories and poems, 11 authors, 6 readers, 1 host. We all had fun listening to many and various tales this afternoon. I wrote three very short pieces which I think I have already posted on here. It’s great to hear people laughing at your jokes and punchlines.
More about the day to follow later.
I’ve finished painting for the penkhull mystery play, here is the willow pattern backdrop together with a school sign (set in the 1840’s). Im not the only maker, this is my friend Mark. There are others but my phone is playing up so I can’t find the pictures . Mark did the, ‘do not touch display’ sign. ( the play starts in a museum in 2019). So having a rest for an hour.
Started with a large flowerpot covered in glue and paper (Papier-mache). Then painted it with a base coat of pale orange / brown acrylic paint when it was dry. I had put a slightly smaller pot inside to bulk up the sides and it gives a nice ridge around the top as if the Potter was starting to thin out the sides. I’ve painted light and dark bands as I wanted to give it texture, partly to hide the crinkly nature of the paper and also to make it look like he is putting ridges around it.
I’m not 100% sure of the colour, perhaps it should be darker, it’s like a pale terracotta I think.
In the play we are doing this weekend my partner has to pretend to throw a pot on a wheel. We don’t want anything big, heavy or breakable, so I’m Papier-macheing a black plastic flowerpot. I had to buy some pva glue but only wanted just enough, not a great big tub or a tiny bottle. So instead of the adult craft section I found a bottle of clear pva in the children’s section at a craft shop.
Got home and started ripping up newspaper. This is many layers later, I’ve added a few layers about two thirds up to give it a slight bulge. When it’s dry I will paint it white as a base coat then a pale brown “clay” colour with shading to make it look hand thrown. I’m hoping it will look reasonably realistic.
It takes a lot to put a play on. Not just scenery but props and costumes. We couldn’t do it without the efforts of people making things, painting things white, gluing tea pots to boards, finding jugs and tankards, the infinite number of things that just help. So instead of pretending you can have something physical, like a coin to pay someone. Props make acting easier.
Then there is costume. Lots of things get re used, cut down to size, have material let in to make it bigger. Hats are made or sometimes built. Members of the cast bring in their own clothes to enhance the look of the play.
We might only be doing something that lasts 40 minutes but it’s taken a few months of hard work and planning to bring it all together.