Tuesday, 2 August 2022

And Though She Be But Little...

 ...She Is Fierce
This is one of my favourite quotes from A Midsummer Night's Dream - in fact it is on our family photos wall, a gift from my daughter. Clever Bob spotted an ad for an open air production of MND taking place just outside the village, last Sunday afternoon at Bylaugh Hall.
When my family moved to Dereham in the 60s, the Hall looked like this - an absolute ruin. All the lead had been stripped from the roof, there were trees growing inside the walls. But about 15 years ago, it was bought, and is gradually being restored. 
The Festival Players  [patron Dame Judi Dench] were coming for one afternoon as part of their 2022 tour, to perform this seasonal delight. We bought tickets, and packed a small picnic lunch, and our folding chairs. It rained during church, but then as we arrived at the Hall at 1pm, the sun came out.
On the South Lawn we found a small stage in front of a gazebo, and lots of other visitors. There were a few stalls selling local crafts, and snacks.The gardens were clearly a WIP. And four quirky older ladies, with daisy hairbands and fairy wings were selling raffle tickets [we never found out who they were, or what the raffle was supporting!] The sky clouded over as we ate our ham rolls.
See the clouds getting worse- as the play began, the heavens opened. It was almost impossible to hear what was said, but the actors carried on - and the brollies went up. The Blue Barclays Brolly in front of me went left, then right, then down then up - and at times I couldn't see the stage [so I amused myself watching the lady who was sleeping through it all! The rain stopped, for Oberon and Titania.
As per Shakespeare's Men at the Globe, all the cast were male, and all played two or three parts each. One guy was a charming Hermia, a mischievous Puck and a boring Snug-the-joiner. Costume changes were swift and clever. Bottom's ass head was really over the top!
It was a great afternoon - we had a good chat to a couple of friends in the interval. I'm pleased to report that the portaloos were clean, fragrant and efficient]
But a couple more brief bursts of heavy rain left me wet through. At the end, we came home, and stripped off all our clothes. "I am soaked to the skin - even my knickers are soaking! "I complained. But it was worth it - what a treat for a summer afternoon.
And then I watched the first 10 minutes and the last half hour of the football. [That's ten times my usual attention span for the beautiful game] Rosie was bedside herself with happiness when we WhatsApped afterwards. I tried to explain that last time we won any sort of football trophy like this, her Uncle was just a little boy not even at school. But the win has certainly lifted people's spirits. 
Good times never seemed so good...



24 comments:

  1. We always enjoy their visit to Shaftesbury Abbey but sadly missed it this year, not sure why I missed the notice.
    Hope you’ve dried out!

    Jane from Dorset

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    1. The only open air theatre I got to when we lived in Dorset was on Brownsea Island.

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  2. Love the sound of your afternoon despite the rain! It’s wettish, windy and warm today which is not pleasant. I am off to visit a friend this afternoon and the chat will be good! Catriona

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    1. Visiting a friend improves the weather. "Bring me sunshine with your smile"

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  3. That sounds a bit like the Minack theatre here in Cornwall, the play goes on whatever the weather. How sad to see the old photo of the building. I'm sure it is looking better now.

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  4. I love the fact that you all sat in the rain to watch the play! :D

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  5. To my mind in summer, there is nothing more magical than outdoor theatre. I was introduced in my teens to the Shakespeare Company in Stamford and went to a production of a Midsummer Night's Dream in the gardens of The George Hotel in Stamford. It was magical. That Shakespearian group is now better known as the Tolethorpe Players, who every year put on several productions throughout the summer months at Tolethorpe Hall near Stamford. Glad you had a lovely time, sorry you got drenched though. Happy days xx

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    1. When we lived in Leicestershire, I always intended ed to see the Tolethorpe Players but never got round to it. One of my daughters went on a school trip though

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  6. What a great production, despite the showers. Sorry you got soaked. I'm off to see Esme from Sewing Bee next week at one of our local festivals, which is run in conjunction with the Edinburgh Fringe. There's also a one-woman play at the Fringe that I fancy seeing. It's about knitting your way through grief and depression. Funnily enough, nobody seems very enthusiastic to chum me!

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    1. Enjoy Esme. The Knitting-through-grief things sounds bizarrely uplifting. Cast off your depression!

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  7. You'll remember your lovely afternoon out even more fondly because of the rain. Sometimes we need a little 'adventure' in our lives even if it is a wet one.

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    1. Yes the rain will make the whole experience even more memorable

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  8. We try to see every production from the Hillbark Players, who put on their performances at Royden Park on The Wirral.
    1984, (the year, nothing to do with George Orwell) was our first experience, and we've seen all but three since then.
    Some years we take our picnic, folding chairs and waterproofs when they put on smaller productions, other years we sit in the very swish
    purpose built theatre that they magically create, with all audience seating under cover, so only the actors ever get wet, and that's been fairly rare in our experience.
    We've also seen a 'walking' production of 'Hound of the Baskervilles', many years ago now, when we, carrying our chairs and torches, followed the players into the woods. Very good, very atmospheric and at times a bit spooky too!
    I hope you've dried out by now!
    X

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    1. This sounds great. I love the idea of a "walking performance" (not in the rain though)

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  9. Utterly fab photos of the cast! I've just looked up information regarding the hall. Were your parents instrumental in setting up Quebec Hall as a Christian Retreat place? It looks to be quite a beautiful place x

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    1. QH and its sister site (Eckling Grange) were both opened about 3 yrs before we moved to Dereham, but we had a lot of involvement with both. Mum and Dad lived at the end of Quebec road for over 20 years _and for the last 3 years of his life Dad lived at Eckling Grange. Have you visited them, Sandra??

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    2. No I haven’t. We are making a short visit to Norfolk in two weeks time to take Ben to the Dad’s Army museum. It’s a belated 18th birthday treat that should have happened last year but sickness got in the way. We’ve been to Walsingham twice but sometime I would like to visit the hall it really does look to be very peaceful x

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    3. Enjoy your visit. Don't forget to take a selfie on the seat with Captain Mainwaring

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    4. Nearby Lynford is a great place to picnic https://angalmond.blogspot.com/2016/01/i-will-say-zis-only-once.html

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    5. Thanks for that Angela, much appreciated will go and look at you Lynford link ❤️

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  10. It must have been warm rain or it would have been intolerable. What a memorable experience! Years ago we watched an outdoor performance of Twelfth Night beside the river, and of course the river itself was part of the opening scene.

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    1. Isn't it fabulous when the surroundings become part of the set

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