Task 2: Research

What is promenade theatre?
Promenade theatre is where the audience can move from place to place during the performance. They are also able to be included in a performance if it has been put into the actor’s script. A very popular example of when promenade theatre was used is of the National Theatre Wales’s production of ‘The Passion’. This performance was performed in several locations across Port Talbort which is a Welsh town. (1)
Companies that do promenade theatre performances:
Examples of promenade theatre shows:
  • Small Metal Objects by  Back to Back Theatre (2)
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fund$ by Women’s Project (3)
‘Small Metal Objects’ is about small objects being in the middle of pedestrian traffic with the background being the city. Two actors are on a higher level each having a set of headphones meaning that the audience are involved in an intense drama which is being played out somewhere among them. The two men, Steve and Gary, play two ambitious people who have arranged to meet with each other for a transaction. Back To Back Theatre explores how respect is not given from ‘outsiders’ such as those that are disabled or unemployed because the society that we live in today class them as ‘unproductive’. ‘Small Metal Objects’ was directed by Bruce Gladwin. Some of Bruce’s other works include ‘Ganesh Versus The Third Reich’ and ‘Food Court’. (4)
‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fund$’ theme is on women and wealth. This production was created by members of the Women’s Project and it was performed 13 times that were free which was at the World Financial Centre which was between 16th and 19th May in 2007. The production included ‘Keep the Change’ by Joy Tomasko and Christina Gorman, ‘I Want What You Have’ by Saviana Stanescu, ‘Dime Show’ by Molly Rice, ‘Remembrance’ by Katori Hall, ‘A Peddler’s Tale: Buttons, Guts and Bluetooth’ by Andrea Lepcio and ‘Song’ by Addie Brownlee. Below are some of the pictures from the production. (5)
Both of these pieces of promenade theatre relate to what I’m doing because I have been looking into the style of the pieces to get a better idea of how to do a promenade theatre show. One of these two shows that I have researched has helped me more and that is ‘Small Metal Objects’ because I was actually able to find out what they did within the performance which I can apply to the piece that my group and I are going to devise.
Girls Fund$ 2Girls Fund$ 7Girls Fund$ 4Girls Fund$ 3 (4)
In the 9th century, King Edward, who was also known as Edmund of East Anglia or St Edmund, was captured by a Viking army. After he had been captured by those Vikings, he refused to renounce his Christian faith which lead to him being beat, shot with arrows and having his head cut off by Danes that had invaded the British Isles during the 9th to 11th centuries. (6) After he had died in 869 AD, he had become a saint and brought back to Bury to be buried. (7) He was the king of East Anglia from 25th December 855 AD and was up until his death on 20th November. There is very minimal known about King Edward and was first mentioned in a book that was published several years after he had died. There is a legend told that tells the story of King Edwards head. The legend says that hid head was thrown into a forest which was then found after wolf cries were heard. The wolf cries that were heard are as the following “Here, Here, Here.” (8) A statue of the wolf that was meant to have looked after King Edward’s head before it was found and reunited with his body has been placed on the Southgate roundabout. The statue is 2 metres high and is a central figure that surrounds the death of the king. The following is a comment that has been made about the unveiling of the statue on the roundabout. Melanie Lesser said “it’s fantastic, but slightly off-set so he’s not right in your eye and shouldn’t distract drivers.” The aim of the statue is to ‘promote the king but not distract motorists’. (9)
Wolf statue in Bury St Edmunds
This picture is from the BBC’s new article about the unveiling of the wolf statue.
The Red Barn Murder is a tale that is known as ‘Maria Marten and the Red Barn Murder’ is one of the most famous murder cases during the 19th century in England. Maria Marten had previous relationships with some of the other villagers and two of them had resulted in her having children. She had been with her lover’s brother, Thomas, and had a child with him but it had died whilst it was still an infant but the other child was alive at the time that his mother met William. Maria and William had a child together causing Maria to be keen on the pair to get married. Their child died and there was reports that it was murdered but that did not change how keen Maria was to be married to William. He had met with Maria’s stepmother in the summer to warn him about parish officers coming to prosecute Maria for having children out-of-wedlock. She suggested that the pair run away to get married which they then planned to do on the Wednesday evening but for certain reasons, this did not happen and they decided to do it a day later.(10) It is reported that on Saturday 18th May 1827, William Corder, who was a son of a local Suffolk family. He was apparently set out to run away with Maria Marten who was a ‘village beauty’. The pair of them walked separately through the night to the ‘Red Barn’ was on Corder’s property. Throughout the walk, Maria was dressed as a man and stayed dressed like that until she got to the barn where she removed her male clothing. The reason she was dressed as a man was to avoid catching the attention of the locals that would have recognised her. While she was changing out of her male clothing, she was murdered by William who then buried her within the barn.(11) Her journey to the barn was the last time that she was seen alive and shortly after, William also fled to soon come back claiming that Maria was staying in a town nearby and didn’t come with him in the fear that friends and family would be angry. The pressure of then presenting his wife was beginning to build so he left the area. He kept writing letters to Maria’s family telling them that the pair had been married and kept making various excuses as to why there was a lack of communication and why they couldn’t visit. This caused superstition and Maria’s stepmother began talking about dreams she was having that were along the lines of Maria being murdered and her body buried in a sack. On 19th April 1828, she made her husband go to the barn and have a look for himself to see what he could find. When he went to the barn, he discovered Maria’s body in a sack, badly decomposed but it was still identifiable. William was found guilty and hanged in Bury St Edmunds.(10)
My idea for the Red Barn Murder would be to have friends of Maria Marten and Maria herself gathering and have a catch up. Within this conversation, Maria would be gushing over her lover William Corder. Some of her friends don’t approve of William and tell her to leave him and find someone better where as her other friends do approve of William. Maria would tell her friends of her plan to meet William at his barn no matter what anyone tells her. It would then end that scene and go onto Maria traveling to the barn and stopping after see enters the barn which would then go onto the final scene where Maria’s friends are meeting again but this time they are waiting on Maria but she doesn’t show so they come to the conclusion that something bad must have happened.
The Nutshell Pub is the smallest pub known in Britain. Although the building has existed for a long period of time, the earliest sale that has been recorded was in 1844. The earliest references to the current use of the pub is from 1867. The legal document refers to ‘all that freehold messuage or tenement formerly a Fruiterers but then converted into and used as a Beerhouse’. To get a better understanding of what this meant, I searched the meaning of the words and put them into a sentence that I could understand and what I got is ‘all that owns a house with outbuildings and land assigned to its use or room(s)that form residence within the house that was originally a fruit retailers but then converted into and used as a Beerhouse’.John Stebbing and his family were already fruit retailers when they took ownership of The Nutshell in 1873 and the family continued their trade from there right until 1893. During its former years, the character of the pub was formed and it still lasts to this day. The forming of the character could be because of various business interests as well as personal history of the family. The personal history of the Stebbing family include a pawnbrokers, overseas military service and musical talent. The Nutshell Pub was originally listed as a Museum of Art and curiosities which offered visitors the chance to see a wide variety of attractions which include things that had survived previous wars, musical instruments from years ago and works of art that are in cardboard and ivory. On 20th October 1874 it was sold to FW King by Bridget Caney. This indicated that the Nutshell became a brewery before the combination of neighbouring breweries, Greene and King in 1887.(12) The Greene King was created by Edward Greene and Frederick William King which is where the name came from, a combination of the pair’s surnames.(13) There is a popular ghost story that is associated with The Nutshell is the story of the mummified cat. A mummified cat hangs over the bar to fight away evil spirits and it is bad luck to touch it which is why it’s called the cursed cat.  An example of what was to be believed bad luck was when one of the bar women took the mummified cat down in order to wash it because it was getting dusty and no one else dared to touch it. However, the cat’s tail had fallen off and shortly after the women lost her job. This could be simply because she was not following the rules that were set out. Another occasion when the cat was touched was when some boys from RAF Honington thought that it would be a good idea if they take the cat down for a joke. After the cat had gone, there were tales of kitchen fires on their base as well as a plane having an accident. One day when a member of staff turned up to the pub for work to discover that the cat had been returned and was now hanging outside. The RAF boys had obviously realised the mistake that they had made. As well as the story of the mummified cat, there is another story that has been told. During the 1970s, a member of the dominoes team had gone upstairs in the pub and was meant to have seen a blonde haired boy. This blonde haired boy was meant to have vanished right in front of his eyes. It is believed that a young boy had died on the premises.(14)
My idea for the Nutshell Pub is to have some of the members of the RAF group that stole the mummified cat have flashbacks of some description so that they can act out what happened to them when they had the cat in their presence. As in my research it does not state how many were in the group of the RAF boys, I would choose to have 3 characters because this way each of them can portray their own personal experience that wouldn’t be too long or too short. If there were more than three people, my fear is that because of the way that I would want it to be played out is that the pieces may have to be shortened that I originally imagined them being. If the pieces were shorter, I feel that I wouldn’t be able to include much back story to it and because I haven’t managed to find much information about what happened to the RAF boys, it is open to be played around with and expand with what I do know about the backstory. The problem that I would face when doing this idea would be that I am in a group with two other females and of course it is men that stole the cat from the pub. I feel that it would be better and easier to portray the history of events in Bury St Edmunds if we played roles of our gender.
Another ghost tale of Bury St Edmunds is the one about the Grey Lady. The Cupola House dates back from 16th century and nearly every landlord of the place in most recent years has their own story to tell but the main story that is told is about the appearance of the Grey Lady. The Grey Lady is known to have been spotted at various locations around Bury St Edmunds. A barman was cleaning up after he closing time and saw a woman in an old costume on he stairs inside the pub. It is believed that the Grey Lady was a nun who had a sexual relationship with a monk at the Abbey. They were punished by their orders for going against their vows of chastity. There have been more reports involving the Grey Lady at the Theatre Royal. A former manager used to leave a programme out on a seat for her and it is claimed that she was spotted. Another event that happened was at the Cupola House in the cellar. The previous landlady, Marian Thomas, went downstairs to the cellar because it seemed like the larger barrel was empty but when she got down there to check things, both the gas bottle and the barrel of larger were full. After going back upstairs, it still wasn’t working so she again went down into the cellar. This time she went down there to check things, the barrel was still full but the gas bottle was now empty and when Marian tried to lift it, it was as if someone was sitting on it.(14)
My idea for the Grey Lady is to have a small group of people having a catch up with friends in the Nutshell pub. One of the members of the group asked for another drink but when the bartender went to refill the glass, nothing came out. The bartender went downstairs to check the barrels and found that the barrel was still full so the bartender went back upstairs behind the bar and tried to refill the glass again. After nothing coming out of the pump again, the bartender went back down into the cellar but this time, the bottle that was filled with gas was now lying on the floor empty. When the bartender goes to leave the cellar for the second time, there is a figure which is standing at the bottom of the stairs which the bartender saw after they’ve turned around. For this idea, it would take a large group of maybe about 5 or 6 people in order to have enough characters and as we may not be able to have enough people in our group to devise this idea so if we were to use this idea, we would have to be willing to change certain things.
There was a massacre of 57 Jews in Bury St Edmunds. After 57 Jews had been killed on Palm Sunday in 1190, it is said that some took safety in Moyse’s Hall. Some historical sources indicate that Abbot Samson may have helped arrange the dreadful event that lead to nearly 60 Jews losing their life. After the Jews lost their lives, Samson’s actions showed that he was far from having sympathy so he arranged with the king to enforce the Jews that had not died to leave town. The reason they had to leave was because they were not a citizen of Bury St Edmunds due to not being able to fully fulfil the role of what they wanted. They were not able to fulfil the role because they were not a part of the Christian faith which, at the time, meant that they had to leave the town. Not everyone in the church or among the churchmen supported the massacre. A man named Ralph de Diceto who kept records of the killings of Jews in three other places besides Bury St Edmunds. The other three places were York, Stamford and Norwich. Ralph de Diceto said that “it cannot be believed hat so sad and fatal death of the Jews can have pleased prudent men, since that saying of David often comes to our ears ‘do not slay them'”.(15) There is a garden of reflection in the town of Bury to remember those of the massacre. The Garden of Reflection is an area in the Abbey Gardens is a place for peace. In January 2015, a statue of a tall teardrop that stood at one metre and a half tall was the newest piece to be added to the garden. The teardrop is there to remember all of those that died or had their lives changed considerably by the Holocaust. It is also there for the 57 Jews that lost their lives in Bury St Edmunds. The statue symbolises both pity and persecution of both human suffering and sorrow. A quote from Rob Lock who is a part of the Memorial Garden Trust says that “it’s mirrored surface reflects back to us the role we all must play in opposing humanity’s inhumanity.” There are also 57 cobble stones, one for each of the victims. This area allows people to think about the worst things mankind have done. Abbey Gardens holds The Holocaust Memorial Day service at 10:30am on 27th January.(16)
My idea for this is to have either one or two young people of the modern generation looking into the statue, discussing the massacre of the Jews in Bury St Edmunds. After discussing the issue for a few minutes, one of those that were forced to leave the town appeared from behind the statue where in which he begins the conversation with the two young people. This conversation would involve the events of the past as well as how those of the future generation can prevent anything such as dreadful as the massacre of the Jews in Bury St Edmunds from happening again. I think that it would be important to show just how the younger generation have the power to change the views of the world in order to try to make it a better place to live in.
After we had been told what the topic of our piece would be I went on to do some research about the Maypole Riots which is my groups topic. The maypole Riots were in the year of 1647 when the Puritans decided that any sort of celebration was sinful which lead to several different things and events being banned. An example of something that was banned is Christmas which soon became just an ordinary day. Another thing that was banned was the maypole celebration. The maypole was not to be put up but the townspeople of Bury St Edmunds put it up despite what they had been told and they put they maypole up in Market Square. This angered and caused the elders of Bury St Edmunds to be outraged so they ordered that the maypole to be taken down. This caused a riot which is when the Roundhead Model Army were called so that they could put order back into place. A Roundhead was someone who was a member of the Parliamentary Party during the English Civil War.(17)
As we have decided quite early on who the characters were going to be, I started doing more research into my characters background. Throughout, I found it hard to find research relating to both the time period of the Maypole Riots and peasants in England. I found an image of a French peasant girl and drew the outfit that she was wearing. As this was the closest that I managed to get of peasant clothing that wasn’t of a dress up costume, I thought that it is a good bases to use for getting a rough idea of what 17th century peasants in England would wear. 
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As I need information of events and what was happening in the time surrounding the Maypole Riots so I did some research on King Charles |. Charles became king in 1625 and fought against the Catholic powers but later withdrew from the European conflict in 1630. He was both stubborn and reserved as well as being politically clumsy and over the course of 15 years, many of his subjects became isolated by his own religious policies alongside his determination to rule without parliament. The protestants who were more enthusiastic came to believe in a sinister plot which was one that was aimed at the return of the Catholic faith in England as well as taking down the liberties of people. There were people with similar fears in Scotland as King Charles tried to introduce a new prayer-book in 1637 which caused the Scottish people to become annoyed and angered. In 1640 King Charles order an English parliament after his attempt to crush the Scottish people had failed. When those in parliament began to sit, King Charles was strongly criticised about his policies and at the beginning it seemed like Charles had no supporters but when one of the Puritan members of parliament began to push the reforming of the church it caused them to become alarmed. In 1641, the Catholic’s of Ireland began to rise, killing hundreds of both English Protestants and Scottish Protestants who previously settled in Ireland. The killings of the Protestants caused people in England to panic which made things a lot harder for political compromise to be reached and due to not being able to agree, England began to divide into two separate camps which were both armed.(20)
To know more about the lifestyle of those in the 17th century I did some research on society, jobs, food, homes and education. During the 17th century England became richer and towards the end of the century, trade became more important that it had been. Several industries expanded such as glass and brick making and coal mining. Rich landowners would hold political power and influence and salesmen had a higher status  than they had before. For the upper class and middle class their lives became more comfortable. However, for the poor people within the society, their lives got worse and most of them couldn’t afford to eat meat everyday. The social ladder during the 17th century went as the following:
  • Rich people
  • Gentlemen who were not rich but they were well off
  • Farmers who owned their own land
  • Servant in a royal household who often worked alongside their men
  • Craftsmen, tenant farmers and labourers
Stats show that roughly 50% of people were wealthy or reasonably well off. Less than 30% of people could afford to eat meat between 2 and 6 times a week. This 30% were classed as poor despite being able to afford meat to eat. Those that were considered very poor are the remaining 20% of people and they could only afford to eat meat once a week. Most of the time this 20% of people needed to rely on poor relief. People were forced to pay tax which would help the poor in 1601. However, those that could not work due to being old and/or disabled would be provided for but those that were able to work would be provided with work and if they refused to work, they would be out into a house of correction. In many towns in the 17th century, wealthy people would often leave money in their wills to provide a house where in which the poor could live.
Rich people’s homes would consist of furniture that was made more comfortable and more decorated than before and it would have been made out of oak during the early 17th century and from the 1680s, they would have been made out of mahogany. The way furniture was decorated involved both cheaper wood and more expensive wood, the cheaper wood would have been the base layer where the more expensive wood would have been put over the top of it. Both chests of drawers and grandfather clocks became more popular within the homes of rich people as well as bookcases being introduced. Chairs became more comfortable than they were before. They were now padded and covered and were very common in the homes of wealthy people and in the 1680s armchairs appeared.
Poor people’s homes would consist of plain and basic furniture that was built/rebuilt in either stone or brick in the early 17th century. In the late 17th century, poor people lived in houses made of stone or brick which was a big improvement from wooden houses that they used to live in as they were now warmer and drier. Another thing that was made common in the late 17th century was chimneys and they were that common that even the poor were able to have them. Glass windows were considered a luxury and the poor people had to make do with linen which had been soaked in linseed oil and this was until the late 17th century when the poor would also have glass windows due to the price of glass decreasing. Poor people would live in houses that only had a maximum of 3 rooms, some houses only had 1 room.
Rich people’s food would consist of bananas, pineapples, chocolate, as well as both tea and coffee. This is both a lot better and a lot more than what the poor people would have to live on. The poor people would have bread, cheese, onions, stew with vegetables and meat and/or fish if they could afford it. Even with such a sort list of items that both the poor and the rich had it is easy to tell that had a better diet simply because of the food that they had access to.
Women in the 17th century would wear frames that were made out of wither wood or whalebone underneath their dresses. They were called farthingales but they were soon discarded and they were replaced with the ruff that had evolved into a large lace collar but that was for only those that could afford it. They would also wear linen nighties which were called a shift. They would then wear long dresses over it. Normally the dresses were in two parts, above the waist and the skirt. In some cases, women wore two skirts. It is also said that women of this time did not wear knickers underneath their dresses.
In rich and financially stable families, both boys and girls went to infant school which was called a petty school and only boys went to grammar school. Girls from an upper class background were taught by tutors and sometimes the boys from an upper class background would have also been taught by tutors. Girls from a middle class background were taught by their mothers. During the 17th century, there were boarding schools for girls where the girls were taught school subjects such as music, needlework and writing. Grammar schools were harder and the boys had to start work at 6/7 in the morning and worked through to5/5:30. If they misbehaved, they would have been hit with twigs on their bare behinds. To hold them down, the other boys in the class would have a hand in holding him down.(21)
Peasants from 17th century England would often be farmers in fields that were owned by lords or they would work for free for churches on the church land.(22) They would also be servants for the rich people and they would often do the cooking, cleaning and laundering in a lord’s house.(23) In the 17th century, women were not able to be lawyers and doctors. Despite this, some women still had jobs and those jobs involved spinning cloth, tailoresses, milliners, dryers, shoemakers and embroiders as well as washerwomen. Those that did not work in the jobs that I have just mentioned might have worked in preparing food and in laces such as bakers, sweet shops and brewers. One of the most common job for women was being a servant. Despite there being jobs available for women, the majority of women were housewives which kept them busy. Many men would require the help of his wife in order to run their farm. Being a housewife included baking bread and brewing their husband’s beer as it was not safe to drink water. If they lived in the countryside, they would make candles and soap for their families alongside spinning wool and linen. The wives of farmers would feed the farm animals, grew both herbs and vegetables as well as milking the cows. If they had any goods to sell, she would take them to the market.(24)
This has helped me get a better understanding of what my characters relation with the other characters in our piece because they wouldn’t normally speak to one another due to their social statuses so as soon as I chose a job for my character, it is then easier for us to start building the relationships between characters. It would be easier to have my character as a servant as then it unlocks the door between the relationship between my character and Nikki’s character who is an upper class lady that comes from a rich and posh background. It also allows the writing of the script easier because we can write in the relationship so that it is clear to the audience the relationship.
In order to be able to write a script that has the correct style of language, I needed to research the sort of language that was used during the 17th century. The language that was used in the 17th century was influenced by both Puritanism and Catholicism, also known as Roundheads and Cavaliers. As well as being influenced by religion, science helped with the language that was used. For Puritans, the ideas of clarity and simplicity had an influence on the writing of the English language in its original form.(25) Shakespeare lived at an important time period in terms of developing the Modern English language which was the late 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century. During this time period, the term that was used quite often for language was ‘Shakespearean English’. During the reign of James |, there was an important translation of the Bible. James | reigned from 1603 to1625. The translation of the Bible took 7 years to be completed after being started in 1604 and was finished in 1611. The purpose of the translation was to be definitive and it was called ‘Authorised Version’ and this was because it was whilst James | reigned and was on the throne. As well as having its main title, it was also known as ‘King James’ Bible’. Alongside ‘Authorised Version’, there was another major religious work from a slightly later date. This was the ‘Book of Common Prayer’ which was produced by the church of England in 1662.(26) By gathering up research about the language that was used during the 17th gives me a slightly better understanding of how my character would have spoken.
Maypole dancing is another thing that needed researching as I have no knowledge on the topic. The original tradition of maypole dancing was to decorate a pole with wreaths of flowers and leaves. These maypoles were known as ribbon-less maypoles. The dancers would circle the maypole in time with the music which was often a pipe and tabor, fiddle and any other instrument that could be found at the time. Later, the maypole would have ribbons attached to the top and the dancers would create a complex pattern f colours by the dancers going around the maypole in different directions whilst holding a ribbon each. The maypole would then have ribbons wound onto it. A typical maypole dance would consist of 10 dancers but would often have many more than 10 dancers.(27) I have found 4 different maypole dances and they all require an even amount of people. The four dances that I found are the Circle Dance, the Barber’s Pole, the Spider’s Web and the Single Braid. The most basic of all of the dances is the Circle Dance. This dance involves the dancers skipping around the maypole with pieces of ribbon. When the ribbon has been wrapped almost all around the pole, the dancers would skip the other way in order to untwist it. For this dance, the skipping has to be to the beat of the music. The Barber’s Pole involves having two circles of dancers around the maypole. The circle of dancers on the outside will dance around the maypole clockwise until they get back to their positions. After they have got back into their starting positions, the circle of dancers on the inside would move out meaning that those on the outside would move in. The circle of dancers that are now on the outside would dance around the maypole anti-clockwise. This would continue until it gets too complicated to continue meaning it would then be repeated the opposite way. There are various ways to do the Spider’s Web maypole dance. One of the easiest ways is to have two sets of dancers but in the same circle around the maypole so that every other dancer would be in the same group of dancers. One of the two groups would weave in and out of the other group of dancers. They would then unwind and go back to their starting positions allowing the other group of dancers to do what the first group did. The final type of dance that I looked at was the Single Braid. This involves partners facing each other then one of the pair would go clockwise leaving the other pair to go anti0clockwise. They would then weave in and out of each other. Once all of the ribbons have been wound, it is undone by doing what they did in the beginning but in reverse.(28)
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Lambert, T (No date) Life For Women In The 1600s. available at: http://www.localhistories.org/17thcenturywomen.html (Accessed: 13 June)
Moore, A (2008) Language Change In English. Available at: http://www.universalteacher.org.uk/lang/languagechange.htm (Accessed: 13 June)
Uni-Due (No date) Periods In The Development of English. Available at: https://www.uni-due.de/SHE/HE_InternalHistory.htm (Accessed: 13 June)
Stradling, R (2016) All About Maypole Dancing. Available at: http://www.maypoledance.com/ (Accessed; 13 June)
LDSSpash (No date) Maypole Dances. Available at: http://www.ldssplash.com/traditions/may_day_traditions/mayday_dances.htm (Accessed: 13 June)
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