The Eleven

April 14, 2010
THIS WEEK FREE at The Scoop, More London
near London Assembly Building, riverside SE1: 12 – 2pm

Wed 14 – Fri 16 April: short excerpts from the play & other works inspired by The Southwark Mysteries, performed by the author and members of the core and community casts.
Sat 17: an open workshop rehearsal/performance of the play

That’s what it says on our website. And, this chilly overcast April morn, that is what we did – our first performance of The Southwark Mysteries “street” outing at the Scoop, a modernist amphitheatre literally “scooped” into the foundation of the London Assembly Building.

We assemble underground in the More London offices. Susannah from the community cast comes in glowing from just having shouted good morning to Mayor Boris and “told him we’re doing The Southwark Mysteries”.

We have core cast members Kai and Caroline, workshop leader Ita and community cast members Shaun, Jennifer, Lizzie, Ivan, Kim, Philippa, Susanna, Leslie and Eric – with Kate, Cecilia and Katie on back-up.

Our intrepid little crew emerges from the Tardis-like door and march in single file over and down into The Scoop, Katie leading the procession, striking the beat on two sticks, John Taylor and Moll Cutpurse, the author briefly reincarnated as John Crow in his 10 year old blue shaman’s coat made by Annie who’s now designed the costume for Charlie’s Crow.

As we wind down the snaking ramp into the pit, we see that our first audience would be a group of  ten of more Islamic women in headscarves, some veiled. They laugh a lot and seem to like our weird little piece of situationist theatre.

For me it was like the old days, when I toured Europe in 1980 with the street-theatre group Sheer Madness, doing Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits.

Kai (JT) and Caroline (Moll) did a barking routine, then we all  struck up The Ballad of Mary Overie. Tunnellers Ivan, Eric, Leslie and Shaun did their tunneller’s song, all decked our in hard hats and heavy-duty yellow-jackets.

Then Shaun bravely stepped forward to perform a poem he’d written himself, inspired by the experience of being a Tunneller in the play:

Dig Tunneller Dig

Start the mornin’ with a full English,
Sausage, bacon, tomato and fried bread,
Good job I’m not squeamish,
Need a full stomach for waking the dead.

Meet the lads for a fag and cup a tea,
Curse about the game last night,
What about that missed penalty,
That ball took flight.

Forgot anniversary gift,
I’m in trouble,
Extra shift,
Need the double bubble.

No-one said anything about bones,
Diggin up the dead ain’t right,
Did you hear those moans,
Gettin’ quite a fright.

Thats odd,
Over there,
Oh my God,
They’re everywhere.

All hell has broken loose,
I guess that’s that,
We disturbed the bones of a goose,
Justice or tit-for-tat.

Magnificent. And Ita led Jennifer, Kim, Philippa, Lizzie and Suzanna in group renditions of By the Grace of Our Lady Mary Overie and I am all the Death and Pain of two thousand years and more – a very powerful expression of the active feminine principle that moves the Mysteries.

And Rainbow Lizzie performed her own poem about being a tart and read aloud her character notes she’d worked on at the last workshop and sang a beautiful version of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song – yes, really!

And we all sang Ferry me Home, then did the closing verses of The Southwark Mysteries with me doing John Crow and The Goose’s lines and hearing my voice bounce off the London Assembly building: “Let in! Let in!”  it suddenly felt like we were some sort of strange radical theatre group, which in a funny way we are.

So then we all went and had a coffee-break, then came back and did it all again.

We came home, did as much producer’s work as we could in the time available, then it was back out to the Wednesday evening rehearsal at Edric Hall, 6-9 pm, pretty much non-stop, everyone working flat out, everyone putting so much into this. Tonight we all shared that buzz of being part of something bigger than any of us.

O yea!

One comment

  1. Sounds great all good wishes for a succesful time ahead xx

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