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.
Where would the mystery play be without the music. This year as always provided by the brilliant Boatband and Clay Chorus choir.
I don’t want to give away the music or plot too much. But the singing covers dramatic action in the play. I know Clay have been learning the songs for a couple of months now and there are some poignant pieces to illustrate the conditions in the first half of the nineteenth century. We don’t realise just how much things have improved for both adults and children.
I think the audience are in for a treat this year if we all keep our cool and get it right.