He stands, not only looking but seeing, not only hearing but listening. In this sunken lane enclosed by high banks sound lingers. In Spring it is full of bird song and movement; in winter the winds pluck the trees and hedge and it thrums like a great harp. The tall grass stems, green in this early summer, lean over from each bank, seed-head meeting seed-head softly like hands closing in prayer. Oxeye daisies, Goldilocks, Lady’s Smock, Mouse-ear and Crane’s bill string their bright bunting along the high banks luring hoverflies, bees and butterflies. He sees the tracks which thread through the grass, narrow pathways of those who live by the flanks of the wood. Fox, rabbit, hare and deer, creatures who have the impudence to survive snare and shot, hunting and harrying to steal a living. They and other subversives turn this sunken lane into a republic of outlaws. Feathers from a woodpigeon lie scattered like white petals, tufts of grey fur, randomly scattered hazel nut shells bearing teeth marks of squirrel or woodmouse are all the dark matter of a parallel world going about its own business.
Photos from the first performance.
Dress Rehearsal – 17th May
Prop-making Workshop at Bergh Apton Village Hall, 2nd May.
The Props-Maker’s Part in the Mystery Play
The command came: Create a plague
to vex the Pharaoh and all his people.
Take a white linen sheet, three span by two,
ink from the brown-black oozings of silos,
card for pattern-making, razors for cutting,
rollers for inking, and now … begin!
And we, in the props-maker’s guild,
did as we were bid.
Draw all manner of mini-beasts on card,
midges, mosquitoes, scorpions, wasps and flying ants,
Cut round, and ink the patterns silo-black,
spread out the sheet and print their throbbing bodies,
fluttering wings, buzzing heads, till the whole white
world teems with frenetic insect life.
And we, in the props-maker’s guild,
did as we were bid.
Now shake the sheet, and the creatures flew up
in fury at the Pharaoh and all his people
with such a susurration and a flapping,
as never was heard, and they bit and they stung
till this folk were covered from toe to top
with bumps and lumps, and lesions and scab,
and they were sore, very sore vexed!
And we, in the props-maker’s guild, can say with pride,
We played our mysterious part, and did as we were bid!
Brenda Smith at Bergh Apton, 2nd May 2014
Sometimes words are just useful in the same everyday, take for granted way as knives, forks and spoons.
‘No, thank you.’
‘Fish and chips twice please.’
It’s raining again.’
At other times they hold the power to make spells, creating mood and magic.
As the one who makes the tea at rehearsals I have time to listen and watch as Hugh and David create a magic with the players, words, voices and movement and all in the setting of a chilly Church.
God starts to speak:
‘Welcome to my world,’
(’Wait a minute God, we need you placed higher, stand on this box.’)
We watch as God places constellations and planets to ceaselessly journey, the great leviathan slipped to cruise the oceans and birds tossed to fly high in forest trees. Then, from Adam’s rib, a woman is formed.
(Well done God. Adam and Eve, are you ready?)
They saunter through the Garden, entranced by all they see.
(‘How are we going to dress these two, any ideas?’
‘What if…….?’ ‘What about…..?’)
Enter the serpent and we all hiss.
She coils and twines round Eve hissing honeyed words to her, sugaring her conscience to sleep.
(Eve, try to show how tempted you are to pick that apple, it’s now or never.’)
Eve plucks the apple and in turn becomes the tempter.
(Adam arrives, all innocence. He has to dance round Eve and Hugh and David demonstrate a nifty soft shoe shuffle. By complete change of voice he has to show he is no longer the carefree innocent. This is the fall of Man!)
‘What have you done?’ demands God and banishes Adam and Eve. ‘Adam lay y-bounden’.
Adam ages and is dying and sends his son, Seth, at eight hundred years old a mere stripling, to the Garden. Angels bar the entrance.
(‘I’ll look on the web and see how to make wings.’
‘I’ve had a brilliant idea, instead of swords….’)
An angel gives Seth but ah… if you want to know what he is given you must buy a ticket and come to the plays.
Adam sprawls on the floor, dead.
(‘How do we bury him?’
‘And he’ll need to be watered. Make a note please to add a watering can to the props.’)
So ends the rehearsal. The Church door is locked and above us sail the stars, all placed in order by God as we have just seen.
THE BERGH APTON
MYSTERY PLAY CYCLE 2014
Stepping into the Unknown
A small group gathered in the darkness & shivered. They sipped hot drinks, wondering what they were letting themselves in for.
Two hours later the team had bonded as a well-honed troupe of players. The first Rehearsal for the first play of the Bergh Apton Mysteries was already beginning to show we have some exciting talent on board. What is in store, we wondered, once all fifty actors take to the stage in May? The levels of inhibition had begun to fall away and the adrenalin do its work. The troupe was creating life from off the page, where lovingly Hugh Lupton had sweated long and hard to bring us a script worthy of the master. The words took on new meaning. The world was created, man and woman crafted and the begetting commenced. And David Farmer was already extracting the homegrown talent’s deepest and previously untouched strengths as his directing talents came into play.
Prepare to be amused and delighted when the four plays have fully come to life, once rehearsals are completed for the performances on 24th May, 1st June & 8th June.
Find out more on the website and twitter and facebook – and be sure you get your tickets soon. They are already selling well and there are only 200 available for each performance.
Extract from the February 2014 edition of the Norfolk Magazine
‘Bravo to Bergh Apton with its plans for a new, brilliant community project.
……there’s a wealth of creative and cultural events taking place in 2014. The one I’m most looking forward to is being put on by the village of Bergh Apton famed for its fabulous sculpture trails. This year it’s taking on a different challenge. A Mystery Play Cycle. On three weekends in May/June four plays based on the Legend of the Rood will be performed in the village. The audience and cast will be led by wandering minstrels through the beautiful countryside from location to location. People from 11 neighbouring villages will be involved. I live in one of them and as my thespian days are behind me I am honoured to have been given a role as one of the patrons alongside the Bishop of Norwich and the author Louis de Bernieres.
I feel so lucky to live in a part of the world where people put their time and effort into events like this. Bravo to Bergh Apton and all the other communities in Norfolk with the same adventure and imagination.’