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Day 47 cont from Day 49 before yesterblog

March 9, 2010

Lest any devout Christian be concerned by Day 49 before yesterblog’s honouring of the pagan ‘Dark Eyed Girl’, let me hasten to assure: the poem/song Gaia appears in The Southwark Mysteries: Book of The New South Bank. It does not form part of The Mystery Play to be performed in Southwark Cathedral on 22nd, 23rd and 24th April.

The Mystery Play does implicitly honour a feminine aspect of Divinity – challenging the image of God as an old white man. John Crow, with a little help from Satan, confronts “God” directly, denouncing him as a false god and causing him to storm off in high dudgeon.

In the very next scene, the Protector, Oliver Cromwell, marches in at the head of his troop of Puritan soldiers, hell-bent on closing the theatres, bear-pits, brothels and other attractions that comprise Bankside’s 17th century den of Sin:

CROMWELL         I am iron-clad Cromwell,
The Wrath of God incarnate.
Here to harrow Hell
In the heretic and harlot.
To cast this Whore into the Pit
With her accursed nation.
As it is written in God’s Book of Revelation.

CROW                   That Book was written by a man
In blood and bile and spleen.
God calls upon his Son John Crow
To wipe his Daughter clean.

CROMWELL         Heretic! Thy “Mysteries”
Blaspheme our Bible story.
Where is Our God in Heaven?
Where the Power and the Glory?
Where is the Tree of Life
And Woman’s Great Transgression?

CROW                   We have another tale to tell
Of the soul that fell from Eden,
Of that female part of God
Who sought herself to know.

CROMWELL         That female part was cursed by God
Thou wicked John Crow.

CROW                   The God that did curse her
Was in your image cast.

The argument becomes ever more heated, eventually involving The Goose, The Bishop of Winchester and a certain Will Shagspur. It ends only when Satan reminds them:

Ye all hail from divers ages, the centuries traversing.
Bethink you not it strange that ye be standing here conversing?
When all of you by rights should be a-mouldering in the tomb.

CROMWELL         Then… It must be…

SATAN                  It is! It is! It is the Day of Doom.

from The Southwark Mysteries by John Constable (Oberon Books)

* * *

4. The entire 100days is seeded with such texts from The Southwark Mysteries, so, reading backwards – or forwards, depending on your point of view – from Day 100, it is possible to reconstruct a kind of trailer of the Mystery Play.

I did do some producer’s work today – still seeking to balance competing claims. The production team want to increase the overall budget, spending more on the costumes (agreed, in principle, following receipt of a £500 donation), including an allowance for transport costs (agreed) and employing an additional DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) which I’m resisting, at least until we get confirmation of more funds.

On the other hand there are many people have helped The Southwark Mysteries on its way to here – and even a few who haven’t  – who may feel they’re owed a free ticket.  Our capacity has shrunk to 340 seats (see Day 50:50) and with it our prospective box-office income.  Already 150 complimentary first-night tickets have been promised to major supporters and VIPs.

I’ve asked our core supporters, the one’s who’re closest to the project and have already put the most in, if they would pay for tickets even though they clearly deserve comps.  They’ve risen to the occasion. Anne, who’s put in so much hard work behind the scenes,  has bought tickets for the one night when she’s not doing front-of-house and VIP duties.

Southwark Mysteries Trustees will also be there to help with front-of-house at the performances in the Cathedral. Even so, they’ve bought tickets for themselves and friends – and Lisa and Jacqui have tickets for every performance! It was Jacqui, a founder member, who made the personal donation of £500. Such extraordinary little acts of generosity are helping make all this happen, shoring up the essential, larger funding we’ve received from our corporate partners.

And, now I come to mention it:

The Southwark Mysteries 2010 production is principally funded by:
NEO Bankside, Forster, IPC Media, London South Bank University
and Southwark Council.
The inclusion of our community cast is funded by
The National Lottery through Big Lottery Fund.
We would like to thank our hosts for the performances:
Southwark Cathedral and More London for their generous provision of venues.
Thanks also to Better Bankside, Allies and Morrison, Borough and Bankside Community Fund, STEP,
Southwark Cyclists, Jacqui Woodward-Smith, Land Securities, Izod Evans and many other local supporters.
The Southwark Mysteries is featured in the 2010 St George in Southwark festival.
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