weekend in Ramsbury

14Dec10

A weekend in Ramsbury…… December 14, 2010

Ramsbury is a two pub village in Wiltshire, UK, about 75 miles out of London. We were staying as guests of Peter Page, noted goldsmith and also one of the lead actors in our Venice panto performances (he usually plays the bad guy.) Here is Peter’s website…http://www.peterpage.co.uk/about.htm

While there, we happened to attend a performance of Sleeping Beauty, the very panto we are performng in Venice in 2012. The idea was not for writer Laurie Graham, my spouse,  to get ideas, but for all of us amateurs to get a take on this traditional panto and maybe for some of us actors to steal a gesture or two. heaven forfend!

Peter Page, our host in the UK, in the the Venice panto usually plays the villain, as he will in 2012. I am usually one of the two dopes (no stretch there) who travel around together and are meant to provide comic relief. Last panto I had two short lines, and I blew them both. Duh!

Here is Peter as King Rat in the last panto:

The next evening we attended a Medieval Nativity Play in a tiny local medieval church, dating from 1400 in the (also) tiny village of Aldermaston (http://www.aldermaston.co.uk/), in Berkshire. The play was from the York Mystery Cycle of the XIV century. The original cycle was comprised of 47 individual plays designed for one continuous sequence. The plays covered all Biblical history from creation onwards. The performance we saw covered only the Christmas story, otherwise we would still be in that cold, country English church, praying for the end. The original plays were performed by tradesmen, apprentices, farmers, etc. Often they were performed inside the church, but also outside. Were they crazy?

The scripts were adapted to the actors playing the roles. For example, if a thatcher played a shepherd, he humourously might comment on the hole in the roof of Christ’s birthplace which required repair (thatching). Ho ho.

Aldermaston is also the site of Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and, therefore, was the site of numerous protests by leftwing radicals, (principally the CND) in the 60′s and 70′s. Today it has resumed it more aristocratic nature. The congregation seemed pretty normal, i.e., it seems that none of the detritus of the CND campaign stayed on in Aldermaston …I saw no “peace” buttons and I had the longest hair there. Frankly, most of the congregation exceeded my age by 20 to 30 years or even by 40.

The “vicar” was an attractive woman about 30 years old. Things have changed in the Anglican Church. St Mary the Virgin Church in Aldermaston, is seen below.

                                              St. Mary's Church, Aldermaston - © Nash Ford Publishing

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