April 16, 2010

Countdown to first night (Day 3) of three once-in-a-decade ritual performances of The Southwark Mysteries in Southwark Cathedral next Thursday 22nd April. All performances are fully booked. If you’d like to see a free rehearsal-performance…

Tomorrow, Saturday 17th at nOOn
at The Scoop, More London
near London Assembly Building, riverside SE1:

FREE OPEN  rehearsal/performance of The Southwark Mysteries
performed by the combined core and community casts
We were there this morning, our intrepid little troupe, for our third day of Mysteries street theatre. Roll of honour: Jennifer, Kim, Susanna, Sarah H, Lizzie, Zoe, Daisy, Irene,  Pete,  Ed, Shaun,  Rowan, Leslie – forgive me if I’ve forgotten anyone – with yours truly fronting the little scratch cabaret in and Ita orchestrating the Sisters of Redcross.
I compere as a cross-between John Crow and John Taylor the Water Poet. Somewhere in there I find myself doing a spot of unlicensed channelling and hear myself speaking of the need to also honour God the Mother. A surprising theological moment for Crow, before, in the shadow of the London Assembly Cucumber,  we get back to the politics. 🙂
We do our classics: The Ballad of Mary Overie, The Goose’s Song.  Today I’m especially encouraging community cast members to step out and perform their own work. And they do – Zoe performs a vivid rhythmic poem exploring her energetic responses to the Mysteries and the Cathedral. Shaun does his Tunneller’s back-story poem. Rainbow Lizzie does hers for the working girls, “inspired by your words”:

I might be a tart, but I got a kind heart
And me dad would’ve been in the Marshalsea
Now I’ve come here to be free
So I took a part in John Crows play
So I could come to the southwark and have my say
All I ever wanted was love
And all I ever got was glove
But now that fella John Crow
Come to help us prostitutes  see
That we could all be free
And you’ll all see we’ll let the love in
and our hearts will run free
Truely this will be a Southwark Mystery

Irene sings: Mercy Now! accompanying herself on autoharp. So haunting and plaintive, opening hearts which the Sisters of Redcross proceed to transfigure By The Grace of Our Lady Mary Overie. And I Am All THe Death And Pain – a massed band of fierce feisty women of all ages – jaws in the audience visibly drop!

And Sarah H (not to be confused with director Sarah D-H) reprises her amazing poem inspired by the ‘female gladiator’ who remains were unearthed by the Roman cemetery off Watling Street, Southwark.  Sarah’s  works the audience really well, has us all chanting Infamy! I asked her permission to post her poem up here and today she gave it, and here it is:

Great Dover Street Woman

Amazon! Infamy!

As old as Christ Jesus
Mercury at my heels
Weary from battle, laid to rest
I cannot speak my secrets
Though all shall be unearthed.
Flint and bone,
Shard on stone.
Eight lamps to light my way.

Amazon! Infamy!

An arena spectacular
Two ladies in leather
Cut and slash. This girl fought well.
‘Respected but not respectable’
My glory earned,
My body burned.
The grace in my disgrace.

Amazon! Infamy!

You ask your questions
That have no answers
Did I choose, was I chosen?
Was I freeborn? Was I slave?
Illicit fun?
My battle won?
Daughter of Rome.
Mystery of Southwark.

We cannot speak our secrets
Though all shall be unearthed.


Awesome! I wound up proceedings with the invocation from The Book of The Magdalene, in which the Cathedral opens its heart to receive her. Some community cast members got quite choked up.

To see Jesus drive our Devils in the community cast rehearsals in the  videos by Princess Lint click here


  1. And I was one of the “choked”. If ever I hear, “She is come, out of Egypt by Greenwich” and fail to weep, you can bury me cos I will be already be a gonner.

    How great to be standing speaking John’s very powerful poem/prayer to our Goddess of Mercy and the one the accompanies Jesus’ death. Not surprised there were dropped jaws.

    So good too, to listen to the other people’s poetry too. Sarah’s female gladiator was great and I really loved how she got us all involved. Would it be possible to have Zoe’s words printed as I miseed quite a bit of it.

    And now for a little story, a little Herstory. Back in the day, long long ago ( that’s proper old skool, my little Johnnycrow-come-lately), before Zeus started bigdicking his way around the known world and turning her into a jealous harridan of a wife, the Great Goddess Hera was worpshipped by many. Her male followers were called heroes, and strange to tell, her females followers were not heroines, but hera, just like the Boss. So, off with the shackles, be brave and reclaim the Name. Big smiles and One Love, Jen x

  2. […] as well as shouting “Infamy” to Sarah Heenan’s “Amazon” during her Great Dover Street Woman poem. The final “To Southwark” on the Saturday performance at the Cathedral was both […]

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