Little Egypt/Stour Valley Mummers, 2002

This year, we went for broke - not so much in the number of performances but in attempting to create and perform an entirely new script.
We enjoyed it

Rather than sticking to the more traditional "turning of the year" tale, of light and dark, with the cast of Turkish Knight, St George, Soldier Bold et al (whoever al is), we took the framework of the story and built around it a story with a more local flavour, namely the Martyrdom of St Edmund by the Danes in 869 AD.

This gave us scope for more local references and not a few puns. The heroes, of course, were the local Saxons; the villains the marauding hordes of Vikings.
We stretched matters a little to include the Green Man figure (previously Father Christmas) and Herne the Hunter as our friendly Resurrectionists, and space was made for two female characters in the shape of Edith (Edmund's Wife) and Margaret of Norway.

A complete copy of the script is attached here so that readers can judge for themselves. We'd like to know if you use it.

As a departure from a tradition, we (the writers), know that it will not please everyone. This criticism was posted on the Morris Dancers Discussion List by Keith Leech after I had announced our first performance:

Well nothing wrong with doing something new, but what exactly do you mean by "tweaking to its original form" and then including Herne the Hunter and co? Sounds to me like creeping p*g*nism where none existed before. An 'original form' that you would like to have been rather than anything based on fact. The first recorded mummers play was in the 18th century. Sorry although I am happy for change and the inclusion of contemporary material I feel this kind of retrograde pseudo pagan nonsense does us all a disservice.

We hope the success and frivolity of the new play will reassure such critics that this is about fun and enjoyment and has b*gg*er all to do with such a serious subject as paganism! But, then, I suppose, we shouldn't really call it a "Mumming" play.

The cast were made up of much the same people as in previous years.
Spookily, there were 13 parts, although Neville never made his, so we went out with 12.
Even spookier, perhaps?

Mark had a chance to develop the new character of St Edmund, while Mr Jukes had to grapple with the role of Guthrum, leader of the Danes.

The Hreat Dane. Who else?
Our first performance of 2002 was in The Globe, Clare, where a small but select audience was treated to a virtuoso performance by the word-perfect Mr Corby. A Saintly figure in the gloom

John Proffitt was able to bring even more costumic authenticity to his part as Herne the Hunter, captured here during the Boxing Day performance. If you look carefully, you may just see the join where the deer's head was attached to the human body.

Father Christmas/The Green Man/The Spirit of the Woods, as played by Steve Clarke. More typecasting, and a saving on costume?

Marilyn Clarke, yet again, ran the whole show as Room and Rumour.
Her makeup, however, surpassed all others.

Red faced with embarrassment?

Bill Impossible-Surname gave his all to the part of Sven (which no others can reach ...?), and Hazel Mrs Nu-Nu Fleming's portrayal of Margaret of Norway, a hard-bitten crone out of Oslo's mean streets, was a tremendous feat of acting, even if she was masked a little by Bill's antics as well as the over-enthusiasm of the Boxing Day prompter.
Sorry abou' tha', Mairgrit.

I'm evil, me...

The votes for the Norwegian entry ...

Maggie and Mark (Edith and Edmund) definitely won the prize for the best costume.
Well, they would have done if there were such a prize ....
Here they are seen getting ready for the dress rehearsal.

Edmund and Edith
As always, I'm short of a few crucial photies, so here is a small group shot of a mixed Dane and Saxon Crew.
Back Row, left to right:
Geoff Monk (Radweld), Crawford Kingsnorth (Piers), Hazel Fleming (Mairgrit of Noorweh), Martin Cleverdon (Erik), John Proffitt (Herne).
Front Row:
Bill Impossible-Surname (Sven), Dave Jukes (Guthrum)
In the green room ...
We really enjoyed our three performances this year - at the Globe, the Angel and the Black Lion.
Judging by the applause and laughter, so did the crowds.
We hope we can do the same next year - as long as that stupid Licensing Law isn't allowed to proceed.

The Cast of 2002

Further pictures will appear as and when they become available.

Page maintained by Steve Clarke, 09 November 2005 Copyright(c) Steve Clarke. Created: 28/12/00 Updated: 03/01/2003