Just another WordPress.com site
The first ever full length reading of The White Lady’s Casket as a verse drama with a cast of three took place at Bishops’ House on Hallowe’en. The photo of the cast, comprising myself, Alan Halsey and Rachael Bond, has been provided by Rebecca Bond. Ann Beedham, Alan Halsey and Rachael Bond have kindly contributed words here as my guest bloggers with their reminiscences of the event.
The atmospheric old Bishops’ House was a perfect setting for the telling of this tale, which was inspired by the house, its occupants and their belongings. Words echoed through the rooms and centuries, conjuring up past moments captured in time, and ink. Extracts from inventories, woven into pattern and rhythm, brought to life the days and domesticity of the long dead people who once filled the rooms with warmth, laughter and music. The present day audience filling the room were enthralled and it was an intimate and evocative experience.
Events coordinator, Friends of Bishops’ House
A note on performing The White Lady’s Casket
It seemed all along a brave thing to do, and particularly brave on Christine’s part. The published text of The White Lady’s Casket is a deeply disjunctive collage, a ghostly disruption of the essentially voiceless notices curators display in their museums. There was something peculiarly exciting about the recasting of its words for their semi-dramatisation by our three voices: the ‘same’ text but so differently realised that it seemed to metamorphose during the performance. Brave too to cast someone as young as Rachael as the Page – in fact at first rehearsal it felt somewhat reckless. Writing as disjunctive as this is a challenge to the most experienced reader: how could we make it child’s play? Well, by doing just that, preparing ourselves with pass-the-cushion games, wailing like cats and yapping like dogs, singing silly rhymes … and then somehow this ‘difficult’ writing found its new voices and fell into place. What a bogey ‘difficulty’ is! Treat it with some fun’n’games and it’s gone.
Two months later I remember one passage as if I heard it a moment ago. Christine had devised a simple but plaintive tune for a phrase which appears roughly at the midpoint, ‘one wooden chest of Green’. We sang it as a round, lightly echoing each other. It seemed to create an enveloping silence around itself, as if it were absorbed into the medieval fabric of Bishops’ House and carried with it some arcane significance no one could have possibly expected from five little everyday words.
I’ve been learning about the Tudors at school and Bishops’ House is quite amazing because it is a real Tudor House.
It was very exciting to be the Page, but it was especially scary because it was Hallowe’en. It was a bit hard to read because I didn’t understand all the words and it was quite puzzling. I liked singing ‘One wooden chest of green’, but ‘Kit died in winter’ made me feel a bit sad.
I’d like to do something like The White Lady’s Casket again, but maybe not quite as late or sitting still for so long! I liked playing the ‘quishon’ game with The Lady and The Scholar and they were very kind and helped me read my part.
Rachael (age seven)
Cast member playing The Page