Panto

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Have you heard of Panto? Or better known as Pantomime?

No? It’s something that goes on here in the UK around Christmas time.

Usually seen in a theatre it consists of brightly coloured sets, with brightly clothed people, messing about, telling an adventurous story while telling awful jokes and singing contemporary songs.

We do this in Penkhull, but for the at two years someone from the group has written the panto/pantomime, rather than buying in a script.

We started rehearsing last week. Lots of people who have done it before, greatful to get a couple of lines and be able to play act again. Most modern pantos seem to have commercial sponsorship, but in our case we just mention local shops. We don’t have advertisements in the panto, unless it’s jokey ones in the programme.

This time we are doing Aladdin. Set to open for four performances (too many for’s?) in February 2020, so the cast can take Christmas off!

Oh yes we can!

Almost a Sacred Duty.

We went to see a production of Almost a Sacred Duty tonight. A play and presentation at the New Vic theatre. The start was a brief history of what had happened in 1918 by a local historian. This was followed by a play with people from the present and three characters from one hundred years ago. It was about the Minnie pit disaster in 1918, the 18 months it took to find the 156 bodies of men and boys working in the mine who died in the disaster and about 80 miners who survived.

The inquest was held in 1919 after the last body was found. After the hearing, which took weeks, the conclusion was that dust in the mine had contributed to the explosion although nobody was found accountable.

The people acting were playing present day residents who were commemorating the disaster and also played people from 1919 who were at the inquest. The whole thing was only about 45 minutes long but it was really good.

Jim Worgan is a mining historian who gave a short presentation.

Sue Moffat wrote the play and it was directed by Anna Poole. There were three professional actors plus a community cast and the play was supported by the Minnie pit centenary commemoration group, the heritage fund, and New Vic borderlines.

The play used information from William Cooke, a local historian and writer who had given permission to use his book ‘The Minnie pit : Disaster and Controversy”.

Harpers Titchy Theatre

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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.

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Last rehearsal

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Almost done. Tomorrow we do the mystery play. Museum scene, travel back in time, work in a pottery, get thrown out of your house, end up in the workhouse. Escape to go to school. A Sunday school performance, finale. Songs, humour, tragedy, history.

Penkhull Mystery Play event, Saturday 13 July 2019. Free event, starts in the church at 10am then on the church green from 1pm. Stalls from 11am. Lots to see and do… Sorry to keep going on about it!

Photos of Warhorse

I wrote about going to see Warhorse last week, but I did a drawing because we were not allowed to take photos.

Then I found these photos on line. I think they are publicity shots which are allowed to be shared. If they suddenly disappear you will know why.

They just show the beauty and also horror of the play. Such strong sculptural images.

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War horse

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I don’t have any photos but I did a quick sketch from my memory of the horse in Warhorse that I went to see tonight.

The play starts with a puppet foal which is quite small. The story shows him being bought and then brought up on a farm in England in 1914. Suddenly the foal becomes a fully grown horse. He is sent along with thousands or possibly millions of horses across to be part of the cavalry in the First World War.

The story charts what happened to him and also his owner who enlists so he can find him.

The horses in the play are depicted by puppets which contain two puppeteers inside them and one moving the head and neck. In scenes where he is galloping extra puppeteers move the four feet. The horses move in realistic ways, flicking it’s ears, moving it’s tail. Rearing and bucking.

There are sections of horrific violence but through it all there is a strong streak of humanity. There are good and bad on both sides. I found myself enthralled  The play seemed to fly by.

I need to mention the other puppets, the goose, swallows flying on the wing, and a first World War tank that were  so well used to depict reality. You forgot there were puppeteers, you just saw the things they were meant to represent. If you get a chance to see it, its worth it.