Yesterday morning, I found myself first researching the genre and then actually writing a Mummers Play. It is to be performed as part of the forthcoming Dragon/Beltane weekend in Glastonbury. Can’t wait to take part in, or experience as audience, everything that is going on the 29th and 30th April.
I first wrote a play when I was eleven: Still have the faded blue notebook, filled with childlike handwriting, and the memory of sitting in the back garden of Cumbraes (the house in Headington, Oxford, I lived in until I was eighteen) scribbling away. Such delight.
My next major dramatic piece of writing took place in 2011 when I wrote the play version (camped up) of ‘The Land of Green Ginger’ for Wrington Drama Club to perform as a pantomime. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to – and, long story short, the play, as twisted, er envisaged, by Ali, has yet to see the light of day. Damn shame! It was, and is, very funny though I say so myself.
So, with five novels under my belt and all the rest of it, the challenge of trying a new writing format (because the Mummers Play type of play-writing is very different to more modern ones) was irresistible.
It all started, in a sense, when I joined Shadow of the Tor a month or so ago. During Monday’s rehearsal, and having volunteered to take part in a ritual drama which is also part of that Beltane weekend, I was asked if I would like to come along to the planning meeting of the Dragon/Beltane Committee and find out what was what.
I had a lovely evening in the George and Pilgrims (G & P) – and, as a result, agreed to write the Mummers Play. Like you do! I wasn’t even drunk at the time, I hasten to add, having been quaffing nowt but Diet Coke all evening.
Once I knew roughly what I was doing, I set to – and, Oh, the joy! It was a delight to do from start to finish; I had forgotten the sheer pleasure of extended humorous writing. It has some slight resemblance to that perennial favourite ‘St George and the Dragon’ – but has been brought up to date in some very specific ways, which I won’t go into!
It has now been read by some members of the Committee – and they think it will do for the day; in fact, they think it’s pretty good, which thrilled me no end.
Yesterday afternoon, rehearsing Shadow of the Tor’s play (written and produced by founders, Francis and Brad), in Abbey Park, surrounded by verdant trees and sun-thrown shadows, I rejoiced. Clad in Mediaeval costume, larking around in Spring sunshine with like-minded people, I couldn’t have been happier!
It is so good to feel that my creative side, held under wraps for so long, is beginning to flower once more; that tight and terrified posts and journal entries are being replaced, increasingly, by free-flowing, joyous, even experimental pieces of writing. It is lovely to feel that I can contribute something to the local community in this way.
If you live in or near Glastonbury, do come along – on the 29th, the 30th or both! – and watch the Dragon Procession, hear the talks, be enchanted by drummers and Morris Dancers, watch ‘In the Shadow of the Tor’ and the Mummers Play, celebrate Beltane at the foot of the Tor. It is going to be magnificent. I shall be there, in the thick of it!