“For a while there I didn’t think I’d be able to get my spaceship to work.” I said to Maisie.
This of course implied that I had, in the end, gotten my spaceship to work… and indeed I had. How pleasing!
I had attended the lantern making workshop arranged by BACAT and facilitated by Kate Munro, who charmingly enthused us about the task at hand. Fifteen people were welcomed with a cup of coffee and a place at a table covered in plastic sheet.
Those who had expressed an interest had been asked to think of something to make at the workshop, and after Kate explained the technique of bending the willow twigs that she had bought along (pre-soaked); we set to our plans.
A quiet buzz of activity consumed the room, in the same way that a room falls silent of conversation at the start of a good meal. Silent apart from the chink of cutlery and china; or in this case the sound of ripping masking tape. Occasional muttered apologies could also be heard as the springy willow inadvertently clips your neighbour around the ear.
We all did our thing, in studied concentration, punctuated by brief words of encouragement by Kate or the other er luminaries.
Around lunch time we reluctantly left our work to eat a baked spud, some cheeses and an inventive salad including nuts and berries. Delicious!
More peace and quiet while we worked on our projects and then tea and a sticky bun.
Then time to go… five hours had whizzed past and we were able to pack our, mostly finished, slightly sticky lanterns into our cars. They were bigger than planned – so some of us had to walk home.
If you haven’t attended one of the many workshops organised by BACAT, I encourage you to do so. From a personal perspective; approaching the day it seemed like a lot of time away from getting necessary chores done. At the end of the day I felt tired, peaceful and satisfied… which is pretty much as good as it gets.
…And the plans for a flying saucer space ship had worked!
Rubbish is a big problem for our environment for a couple of reasons.
- We are running out of holes in the ground in which to tip it.
- We are going to run out of resources to make plastics etc.
- Many people are reluctant to deal with recycling their rubbish, preferring to leave it to someone else more expert.
To help those in that last camp, please follow the following link provided by South Norfolk District Council.
From the 6 June, South Norfolk Council’s rubbish and recycling collection rounds will be changing and it is likely that the day the bins are emptied in your parish will change. We would appreciate if you could assist us with publicising these changes.
Next week we will be sending information packs to every property in your parish explaining what the changes, if any, will be. The pack includes an FAQ leaflet, bin stickers and their new collection calendar.
We thought it would be helpful to let you know what is happening in the ward in which your parish is situated. Below is the information about the new collection schedules across the ward including your parish:
Current collection days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday
New collection days from 6 June: Wednesday, Thursday or Friday
Number of properties:
- 1168 properties will have rubbish collected on a Thursday and recycling on a Thursday (on a regular alternate cycle)
- 10 properties will have rubbish collected on a Friday and recycling on a Wednesday (on a regular alternate cycle)
- 14 properties will have rubbish collected on a Friday and recycling on a Thursday (on a regular alternate cycle)
During the changeover to the new service, some properties in your parish may have two collections in the first week. Additional information about these collections will be included in their pack.
Information is also available on the Council’s website at www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/bins. If you have any further questions you can e mail me direct.
Midwinter Dreaming has been captured for posterity.
Banjo Films have done wonders filming the Play for Candlemas in the February darkness.
The DVDs have virtually sold out
BUT a very few are left in stock.
Do order a copy to re-experience the magic of the performances.
Only £12.50 + £1.50 P&P
Cheques please ifo BACAT, to Christopher Meynell at BA Hall, Norwich, Norfolk NR15 1AX
Have a look at the Youtube Trailer here.
The OUD’s definition of ‘graffiti’ is ‘a piece of writing or drawing scribbled, scratched or sprayed on a surface’. The symbols, writing and sketches scratched onto church walls some five to seven hundred years ago are a different kettle of fish and, because nowadays we tut-tut at graffiti, thus it seems a different word really needs to be used. Some of the images are intricate and would have taken some time to scratch into the stone and were done in the body of the church for all to see so they were viewed in a quite different way, acceptable, respected and allowed by the Church.
Norfolk and Suffolk have about 1 100 mediaeval churches and in 2010 a survey of the graffiti in these started in Norfolk, it was the first county to do this. A similar survey was started in Suffolk a few years later and has spread to several other counties.
Stained glass windows, brasses, ornate tombs, monuments in churches speak of the lord and lady, the well-to-do, those of influence and power in a parish but where are memorials to the common man? Where is the tinker, the tailor, the poor man, the thief? In mediaeval times, roughly from the end of the Roman Empire to the Reformation of Henry viii, everyone had a very well defined place in society, from king to knave everyone knew their place. This is demonstrated in the ‘Boke of Seynt Albans’ written in the 1400’s, hawking was very popular but, depending on one’s position in society one could only own and fly a particular breed of hawk. Only a king could fly a ‘gerfalcon’, ‘there is a spare (sparrow) hawke and he is a hawke for a prest’ and ‘there is a goshawke and that hawke is for the yeman(farmer)’and that well known one used as a title for a book and then a film, a kestrel for a knave. The graffiti which in some churches cover, wall and pillar, arch and sill could have been done by poacher, ploughman or shepherd, are these graffiti the memorials to the ordinary villager?
Interiors of churches of hundreds of years ago were brightly painted with pictures of saints painted directly on to the walls. The graffiti were done with care and intent, what was their original purpose, were they prayers, charms, protection? The Church taught that at death the soul went first to Purgatory to pay for sins committed while on earth before entering heaven so perhaps some graffiti were to a saint to intercede for their soul and the more time and devotion given to carving a symbol the greater effect it would have. ‘Fire and fleet and candle lighte / And Christe receive thy soule’. Why were ships cut into the stone in inland parishes, was this to wish that it would give safe passage for a soul on its last journey? Latin prayers, names, geometrical circles and patterns, crosses, heraldic inscriptions and even architectural plans can be found. It was believed that devils lurked round every corner to tempt the human soul so were some of the graffiti for protection? Names too were cut into the stone, ‘John Lydgate made this on the day of St. Simon and St. Jude’ (28 October), this is thought to date from the late 1300’s to early 1400’s.
Records in stone of all our human frailities, love, hope, death and fear, the daily perils of an ordinary life. Many of these graffiti are time worn and it needs a very sharp eye to see them. Just think, to be able to stand where someone else stood five, six, seven hundred years ago and touch the symbol he carved is to be hand in hand with him.
The mechanistic world of twenty first century Britain where we shape our environment to suit us is superimposed on a far, far older layer of being. Now and again a wild and wet winter and even the turbulent world itself cuts us down to size and we wake up to older rhythms of season and time. We live in a richly layered island, an ancient kingdom marinated in ritual and rhyme, song and story which wind the clock of the year. In 2012 we were host to the Olympic Games and the Opening Ceremony, ‘Isles of Wonder’ tapped into this rich seam and in 2016 we did the same with ‘Midwinter Dreaming’.
Over the last twenty or so years ‘Bergh Apton’ has become a brand, a brand associated with innovation, with events that inspire, interest and intrigue. We never set out to decide what to do next we wait for an idea to hatch in our imaginations and so with ‘Midwinter Dreaming.
It was deliberately entirely different to our last production, the Cycle of Mystery Plays, it would be staged in winter not summer, it would take place in one site and it was to be an experience as well. ‘So along comes BACAT with an event rooted in the year’s cycle, with an eye to the past but not thoughtlessly re-enacting it, instead creatively reinventing, a new thing in fact that had a community life spanning half a year with scores of people happily and creatively involved and whose actual telling covered all these wonderful performance areas, costume, decoration, sculpture and light, a moving and involved audience, taste, fire, a surrounding sound and music, song, story, the spectacle of performance, humour and of course the underlying reality of the dark, the night, the cold and the enduring building itself.’
The call went to the Tribes of Ton and not only they but those of our closely related Tribes of Ham and Land responded and Tribes from far flung regions, the Nordovicians, Becclodians and Bungavians, a wide community has been created. It says much for us that the three professionals, well known nationally and internationally, were very willing to join in and work with us.
The play was written in discussions and writing sessions with Hugh Lupton, Mary Lovett created sublime music and singing with our musicians and singers and Charlotte Arculus taught us so much, she took a young idea, turned it inside out, shook it about and, between the three of them and us, we wove a magic, one little idea became a wonder to all who took part and who came to see it. It was not only us humans who created the magic but the time of the year, the season of Candlemas, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox and the ancient church itself, assured and reassuring.
‘…..so many people involved in so many different areas but all willingly going the same way. And it achieved what it set out to do, it marked the division of the winter from the days we inhabit now and it brought to life all those characters….the Wren Boys, the Bee-keeper, we could see and know Hugh’s mummers as individuals. Next winter I think we will miss not having it.’ The village website gives a selection of other comments from our audiences.
All those involved will be far too modest to acknowledge the huge amount of time and interest they gave so I have tried to blow the trumpet for them, they were wonderful.
A special mention to Chris Ellis, our new Rector. He arrived in an unknown parish to find a group of people he did not know had plans for an event he knew little about in the church. He was good humoured and allowed us more or less carte blanche to use the church as we needed, I take my hat off to him.
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
24th January 2016
Just a quick one to say how much I enjoyed the performance; it truly was a wonderful cast and a superb performance by all involved. Good luck for the next two.
Very Well Done to you all last night!
“we absolutely loved last night.. Good luck for the other performances. Wonderful start”
I thought it was brilliant, entrancing, captivating. I didn’t want it to end.
Hello and a very big thank you to everyone involved in the preparation and performance of ‘Midwinter Dreaming’, which I attended yesterday evening, Sunday January 24th 2016. It was a most magical experience and a perfect way to enjoy winter – without all the hype that accompanies Christmas. I particularly enjoyed the music and singing, especially the earthy rhythm of the final song ‘I Sing Of A Mayden’. Coming from the gallery of the church, it was like being transported back 200 years. Please put my contact details on your website so that I can be alerted to any further events you are staging.
an excellent production. I loved the Mechanicals.
I hope you don’t mind me emailing, but I forgot to fill in my questionnaire after the Play for Candlemas on Sunday. My friend and I came, knowing that it would be something special, but were so impressed by the whole . . . I can’t call it ‘performance’, that’s the wrong word, but the whole event, from start to finish, was spellbinding. The welcome in the marquee, the lantern-lit procession through the churchyard, the singing from the gallery as we entered, the gradual extinguishing of the candles to darkness, set such an atmosphere for the actual play.
The play itself was really emotional, and was so cleverly done; the story was woven through and we felt so involved with the characters. The music was brilliantly done, and had a real earthy quality to it, which complemented the play perfectly.
Such a talented group of villages you have!
Please pass on my thanks to everyone involved, and I hope the next two performances are as well-received, and as much fun as they appeared for the participants as well as the audience!
Another thank you for the very magical evening at Midwinter Dreaming. We thought the evening totally brilliant. It was a privilege to have been present. We have a problem though. How do we describe it to all our friends? What was it?? The experience was wonderfully creative and so professionally presented. It was very special indeed, so be proud.
Colin & Annie, Walsingham
PM Replied “A Moment in Time!”
We loved it all. There was so much in the Play. We got so much for our money. Worth every bit of £10.00
As a member of the singers the only thing I shall miss is knowing just how we singers and musicians sound . . . but shall be satisfied with the glowing comments of those who have heard us. All else about “Midwinter Dreaming” is, indeed, dreamy! That we modest Norfolk countryfolk can, in our various contributions and with our varying talents, create such a wonderful evening, and put into our memory boxes such visions, is extraordinary.
I did find it quite hard, at some points when we were called on to sing, to shake off emotional involvement with the story and focus on performance as a singer.
Thanks to all the creative people involved for giving the rest of us the platform on which to perform in whatever way we have performed. What giants for a night we became, we players, rude mechanicals, musicians, singers, makers of lanterns and candleholders and concocters of Wassail!
The musical arrangement of Acapella voices was phenomenally exquisite Mary Lovett (Boo Ya)! Thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience especially the lanterns & the Green Man – quite magical.
30th January 2016
What a fantastic evening last night.
Feedback from friends, “The play was great, very atmospheric. Loved all the lighting effects. The handing out of the box of treats was great too. You all did Bergh Apton proud’. Jane
Brilliant, inspiring, touch of humour, Christ above all the/and ancient ritual. Dawn R
Wonderful, mystic and magical. Sue T
From the moment we arrived at the village hall I was impressed with the organisation of this event. How do you manage to plan such a complex event, get so many wonderful volunteers to help and make it run so smoothly? There were so many elements to the event it is hard to praise it highly enough. I loved the depth that was achieved using so many media. The wassail marquee wasn’t just a tent in the churchyard it was transformed into a mysterious, intriguing but welcoming place with fabulous lanterns and birdsong. Similarly the play wasn’t just a play with some singing and lighting effects it was a captivating experience absolutely crammed full of creative ideas, sights, sounds, stories, songs and humour. Cleverly staged, the semi-darkness allowed a host of effects that amazed – especially the bee sequence. The actors created just the right mix of credibility and incredibility and held us engaged the whole way through. The lovely music and singing was a perfect fit and was integrated so well that there was no feeling of awkward interlude you sometimes get when music is interspersed with dramatic action. The story was so well crafted that combining the Christian and earlier Pagan traditions seemed natural. The talents and skills on display were very impressive throughout. The quality of the whole production, while retaining a rustic handcrafted style, delivered real depth of meaning and created a really high quality experience that we won’t forget in a hurry. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who made this an unforgettable occasion.
I look forward to the next event you tackle!
Hello – just to say: “Hearty Congratulations” to all involved with ‘Midwinter Dreaming’. Superbly done, well organised, imaginative but respectful of traditions, including Christian ones. A lovely occasion on a lovely evening.
Please add me to your mailing list,
Richard M, Norwich
I thought it was quite wonderful and magical and nothing like the sort of event you would expect from a village hall event.
Well done, all of you! An excellent evening. Perfect weather, cold, clear, & lovely. Thank you to everyone involve, looking forward to next production ! Frances M, Norwich
I was approached by the effervescent Christopher Meynell and sometime around May last year. He asked if I would be the Musical Director for this project. At the time all I knew was that Hugh Lupton was leading some writing workshops and that Charlotte Arculus was going to Direct the play. Well those two being involved sealed the deal for me. I have worked with Hugh once before on the Mystery Plays and Charlotte is a much loved friend and colleague.
Our first meeting was in Christopher’s beautiful garden where I first met Pat Mlejnesky who is a fine woman and force of nature! Anyone with a quarter of her drive and energy would be doing ok! We talked about ideas,logistics, music and mine and Charlotte’s concern of their being enough rehearsal time built it!
After a Saturday workshop in Bergh Apton, a cast was born. Actors, Rude Mechanicals a Choir and Musicians. All who gave up their time to attend rehearsals, go to the various making workshops. Lanterns, clay bird candle holders and props. All very committed and it turns out, excellent at taking direction.
Charlotte Arculus is so unique in her approach and she has realised the vision of the writers in a way that I don’t think any of them would have expected. The cast and crew have been so open to Charlottes ideas and direction, it has been a pleasure to witness.
For my part I was extremely fortunate to have some excellent musicians on board. Warwick Bradshaw (Violin and Hurdy Gurdy) Brigitta Campbell, (Violin and descant Recorder) John Sayer (Bouzouki) Linda Alden (Bodran).
A choir of nineteen who were all such amazingly good sports, some of them ended up being part of the action on stage, having not signed up for that, it was all taken in the collective stride and they got on with it! Much the same as them having to adjust to being conducted in the dark.
This project is Community Theatre at its best, a way of including so many people who didn’t necessarily want to act on stage, but could contribute in one way or another to make something truly magical in the process as well as the end product.
The organisation, logistics planning and thought behind this production is an enormous task and BACAT have done a wonderful job.
I have loved working on this project so much and so pleased that I was asked to be involved. I am writing this with one performance left to go. I will be genuinely sad for it to be at an end. But without endings, there can be no new beginnings.
Thank you everyone for you time, commitment and creativity it has been such a pleasure.
Mary Lovett – Full Colour Music
You fail to mention a key ingredient in this BA (Bake Arf) mix!
Your joie de vivre, encouragement and all round bounce have contributed hugely to the success of Midwinter Dreaming. You have pulled together a disparate (but enthusiastic) group of individuals and created from their vocal & musical instruments a really lovely sound that entrances all who hear it. And even the shingles didn’t matter. Brilliant! Thank you, Mary
One more comment:
Lest anyone thinks it is a two man band in organizing ‘Midwinter Dreaming’ it has been very much a team effort. Ben Turner, Kevin Parfitt, Peter Lyle and Steve Mitchell also have given an enormous amount of time, they are efficient and hard working and without them ‘midwinter dreaming’ would have sunk without trace!
This was a wonderful, entertaining hugely enjoyable event. Loved the torches/marquee/procession/sounds. So fantastic to be in the church with so little light. Felt as though I could have been in mediaeval times! Really well done – thank you!
Saw the Play on 30th January. A fantastic mediaeval production. Congratulations to everybody. Couldn’t have been any better; a stimulating experience throughout. Loved the use of light & shade. Music most evocative.
6th Feb 2016
I loved so much of the evening, that essential mixture of sacred and profane whereby each reinforces the other, the wonderful lanterns and light effects, the darkness, the singing from the gallery, the timeless sense of community. But what moved me particularly was the way in which the play brought the church so vibrantly alive. 90 % of the times that I walk into a church, it is completely empty. Tonight was an experience at the opposite end of the spectrum, the church was woken up, the walls spoke, the gallery vibrated.
May I add my voice to those already heard and say what a privilege it has been to see all three performances and enjoy the talent, atmosphere, commitment, music, singing and storytelling. I am delighted to see the church building, so long a place for religious drama, being used to tell a tale ‘as old as it’s new’.
Thank you for a special experience.
Just a note to say how much I enjoyed last night’s performance of Midwinter Dreaming.
It hit just the right note… the ritual anarchy of English folk tradition meeting the mysteries of the gold frankincense & myrrh.
It was funny and moving… and the laughter opened the audience to something deeper.
It looked wonderful. The whole church came alive. In fact, to me it felt like what the church experience should be.
The music coming from the West Gallery was spot on. And a lovely sense of everyone enjoying themselves.
I felt you’d taken the script and run with it – well done all!
x Hugh L
it has just occurred to me that all the praise so far for producing such a magical* and wonderful* experience has been given, quite rightly to those taking part, but did not time and place contribute too? the size of the church limited the number of an audience and think that with a bigger space and a bigger audience we would have lost that feeling of enclosure in a magiced place, lost the intimacy of a group sharing of something out of this world. In the soaring space of the chancel we had shadows of the players, the first time I saw the church turned into an orchard, the great trellis of branches and fruit I shall never forget, the ghostly gothic mad bride of a beekeeper walking down the aisle only worked because of the darkness of this time of the year. The swarm of ‘bees’ was only possible while a dark evening pressed against the windows. The music coming from the gallery and those unseen voices added to the mystery. The putting out of the candles and the darkness and silence descending is something I think few people experience nowadays. The fires and lanterns acted as magnets and within the darkness the looming shadow of the church. The lantern procession into the unknown was only possible because of the time of the year and the church itself. Here’s to the church and candlemas.
*used time and time again, quite understandable. Pat M
When writing that time and place also had their part in making Midwinter Dreaming what it was i should have also said how lucky we were to have Chris Ellis. To accept a living and to find that a bunch of unknown people already had plans to put on some unknown event that was to be performed in the dark and much was to be made of shadows and rude mechanicals creeping about and to be accepting of this is quite something. He allowed us to leave all our stuff in his vestry and in the kitchen. I am sure being in industry and out in the wicked world with all its quirks and foibles is invaluable to anyone in his job. While you are drinking to place and time raise your glass to the vicar as well. PM
Thank you and all those behind the scenes, for such a wonderful event. I’ve so enjoyed being a part of it!
All the best Birgitta C
Thank YOU for bringing it all together. It was a wonderful experience.
What’s next? I assume you’re working on it already. Fond memories, Anna G
Have to echo Anna’s sentiments. Thank you Christopher, Pat, Kevin, Peter et
al. It was great to be part of it Shirley R
And THANK YOU to everyone responsible for creating and organising it. It was a pleasure and an honour to be part of it. Kind Regards Jane & John xx
The whole evening was very magical and we felt part of something very special. There was a harmony to everything, all the actors, musicians, singers and the rude mechanicals were excellent. Some parts were inspirational.
I was lucky to sit near the front and to feel the spine tingling eye contact of the word perfect holly man. It was really something to have experienced. So was the whole evening. Ted H
Came all the way from France met up with daughters from Brighton and Cambridge. One of daughters said it was one of the two best shows she had ever seen and she had paid over £100 to see the other one!
We all thought that it was the perfect piece of theatre. We were all, at various points, in wonder, sorrow, laughter, inspiration and we were so lucky to literally get front row seats. We are all joiner-inners, clapping, singing, buzzing…. Zoe G
I so enjoyed seeing the lovely lanterns that had been created for the Midwinter Dreaming were similar to the one I created at the work shop last year.
A rather mystified “real” owl, gave its plaintive cry from the woods beyond the church in response to the gaggle of birds twittering on the recording in the tent where the audience were gathering in the warm winter evening by the glow of fire baskets waiting for their entry into the Church
To sit in the dark and be surrounded by sounds and fleeting shadows without any notion of what was to take place made it all the more special for me. It will stay with me for a long time.
I was sorry you were not there but you all created something very special and may not be aware of the huge effect that it had on the audience. Ann B
I wanted to write and say how wonderful ‘Midwinter Dreaming’ was and congratulate the organization, writing, craft activities and especially the vision. I only hope you are having ideas for the next project.’ Sally M
Dear Pat, all the wonderful cast, the effervescent Charlotte, Mary, Hugh, the claymakers and lantern creators and all behind the scenes production team.
Thank you so much for a wonderful, magical evening that will stay long in our hearts and souls. We loved the tractor adventure, the wassail, your beautiful stories, the laughter and quiet resonance with our souls.
We eleven returned home warmed and delighted.
Thank you again. Till next time, Wassail! Natasha G
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