Midwinter Dreaming – A Play For Candlemas (2016)

Midwinter Dreaming Acting Rehearsals

Midwinter Dreaming Music Rehearsals





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!

Thank you

Annie x

“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.

Diana D

an excellent production. I loved the Mechanicals.


Are there absolutely and unequivocally no tickets left for the remaining performances? Last night was sold out but there appeared to be a few spaces.

If there are any cancellations or spaces, I’d be very grateful if you could let me know.

Yesterday evening was joyful.

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! 

Best wishes,

Jane K.

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 Pat M, Charlotte Arculus, Mary Lovett and 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! 

John L

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.‬

Andi M

Yes I came with my husband on Sunday and enjoyed the evening very much. We particularly loved the music from the west gallery – the choir and instrumentalists were wonderful.


Everything from the lamp-led procession through the churchyard, to the interwoven folk and bible stories, were atmospheric and engrossing. I liked the first filing into the dark church, and the comedy shadows in the mummer’s play. (And the cake, and the wonderful mulled cider at the start! Although I wonder whether some people would have welcomed an explanation of the little bottle of drink.) Elements that did not come across quite as clearly for me were the hand-made candles and candle holders, but sitting right at the end of a row against a wall, maybe I missed them.


Congratulations on another beautifully immersive event. It was a joy to see the church packed, the community gathered and feel part of the flow of centuries of history.


Best wishes,


Rowan M

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!  

Marya P

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.

Jenny L

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

Christopher M

2/5/2016 11:09:31

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


Christopher M

2/5/2016 14:13:12

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!

Jessica J

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.

Marion F

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.

Liz M

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.

Chris E

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 I think with a bigger space and a bigger audience we would have lost that feeling of enclosure in a magicked 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

  1. 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.

Georgina W

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 workshop 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