An evening of Test Match mem­o­ries

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

That work in­cludes pro­duc­tions like Blithe Spirit, a play about a nov­el­ist who in­vites a clair­voy­ant to his home to com­mu­ni­cate with the dead – and who sum­mons to the house the spirit of the nov­el­ist’s dead wife. The Noel Coward play might be con­sid­ered a safe choice of work to stage.

“He wrote it in a very dark time for the coun­try. It was 1941 and while we might think of it in a cer­tain way now, it was a play that al­lowed the coun­try to talk about death and grief. It was a re­ally im­por­tant play.”

The im­por­tance of the play is re­flected in an im­pres­sive cast which Cruden has gath­ered, in­clud­ing Ni­chola McAuliffe as Madam Ar­carti and Andrew Hall as Charles Con­domine.

It ap­pears Cruden will keep giv­ing the au­di­ence what it wants – and reap­ing the re­wards. THE term “thank­ful vil­lages” has, since the mid-1930s, been ap­plied to those vil­lages which lost no men dur­ing the First World War. Given the scale of the losses dur­ing the con­flict, there are not many places that were blessed in this way – last year re­searchers iden­ti­fied just 53 civil parishes in Eng­land and Wales to which all the men who left to fight re­turned safely.

In this cen­te­nary year of the be­gin­ning of the Great War, Badap­ple Theatre Com­pany, based near Har­ro­gate, are ex­plor­ing the phe­nom­e­non in their lat­est play The Thank­ful Vil­lage which they are tour­ing around small ru­ral venues across York­shire over the next two months. Badap­ple was formed in 1998 and spe­cialises in cre­at­ing new work specif­i­cally de­signed to be taken to vil­lage halls and com­mu­nity spa­ces, bring­ing theatre to places that would not other­wise eas­ily have ac­cess to it.

“We came across the story of the thank­ful vil­lages be­cause there is one close to one of the venues we per­form at,” says com­pany founder and di­rec­tor Kate Bram­ley. “I found it in­ter­est­ing that there were any vil­lages that were able to cel­e­brate their men com­ing back.”

Bram­ley, who also wrote the play, then started to look at the story from the point of view of the women who were left be­hind when the men went off to war. “We fo­cus on three women in one vil­lage who have sent off their re­spec­tive hus­bands and boyfriends to fight,” she says. “One of the women even­tu­ally de­cides to go to vol­un­teer in France.” Set in the fic­tional ru­ral com­mu­nity of Bot­tledale, The Thank­ful Vil­lage is a story of hope, hu­mour and hu­man­ity which fol­lows the for­tunes of the men on the Front and the dayto-day life – with its in­evitable twists and turns – of the women back at home, right up to their re­union in the win­ter of 1918. “One of the women, Vic­to­ria, is in her 30s – she has much more of an in­stinct of the Vic­to­rian era and car­ries all her emo­tion within,” ex­plains Bram­ley. “And the other two are ser­vants in her house­hold – one in her teens, Edie, and the other, Nelly, in her twen­ties. Nelly is fol­low­ing the progress of the mod­ern woman – the suf­fragettes – and she is imag­in­ing a life for her­self be­yond the con­fines of the vil­lage.”

Mu­sic is al­ways a key el­e­ment of Badap­ple shows and when the project was first de­cided upon 18 months ago Bram­ley got to­gether with the com­pany’s mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Jez Lowe to dis­cuss how to in­cor­po­rate mu­sic into the show. “The women also play their re­spec­tive men­folk,” she says. “And the men, when they ap­pear, are al­ways singing.” The com­pany be­gin their tour next week – and it’s a pun­ish­ing sched­ule, set­ting up in a hall, per­form­ing then mov­ing on, with hardly a day off for eight weeks. They take light­ing, sound and a full set – just as if they were go­ing to a stu­dio theatre venue. “What we aim to do is to bring a com­plete theatre ex­pe­ri­ence into a hall,” says Bram­ley. “Ba­si­cally it’s as much as we can fit into a tran­sit van, but we try not to scrimp.” This is very much ap­pre­ci­ated by their loyal au­di­ences. “We are very for­tu­nate – we have a net­work of places we work with in York­shire and we get brought in by ru­ral tour­ing schemes around the coun­try.

“We find that we get a great re­cep­tion from people in vil­lage halls in the mid­dle of nowhere. There is a real warmth of re­sponse to what we are do­ing.”

All Saints Church Hall, Pop­ple­ton, April 22, then tour­ing to June 22. www. badap­plethe­ HENRY Blofeld and Peter Bax­ter will take to the stage to share their mem­o­ries of life in cricket’s com­men­tary box. Mem­o­ries of Test Match Spe­cial has been up­dated since last year and the pair prom­ise to get un­der the skin of the last Ashes and at­tempt to dis­cover where it all went wrong for Eng­land’s cur­rent squad.

Blofeld and Bax­ter will be ap­pear­ing at St Ge­orge’s Hall, Brad­ford on May 15. For tick­ets call the box of­fice on 01274 432000 or on­line at www. brad­ford-the­


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