Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Catching up with Chris.

After work I managed to grab a coffee with Chris White, whose co-convening the MA Directing course here at St Mary's. On and off we've been working together at various places for the last six or seven years and it's always good to see him and catch up.

We talked a bit about theatre and heritage, particularly in light of the work Drama in the Community are building at Ham House. Chris felt we were on the right lines with our approach as more and more theatre is devolved from buildings the search is on for non conventional sites supportive of storytelling. He'd been to see Goat and Monkey's A Little Neck at Hampton Court last week written by Ali Taylor. It sounded fascinating. As is the vogue, the audience are divided and accompany one of four characters through the palace to relive the downfall of Anne Boleyn - occasionally crossing the path of another main character. Nobody gets the full story, but everybody is brought into the intriguing world of Tudor politics.

It made me think about possibilities for Ham House. It was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War - but somehow wasn't requisitioned during the protectorate. Some rumours suggest that the Countess protected her property by becoming Cromwell's lover whilst also being a leading member of the Sealed Knot, the secret society committed to the restoration of Charles II. There's a cracking story here isn't there? Next stop is A Gambling Man, Jenny Uglow's new biography of Charles - which I've heard draws heavily on the machinations of his court - in which the Dysarts' played a prominent role. Do their Scottish roots and monarchist sympathies also suggest an underlying Catholicism? More research is needed.

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