Written by local writer and ‘Tempest of Lyme’ & ‘Monmouth’ actor David Ruffle
Monday 27th March saw the opening rehearsal for this year’s community play, Monmouth. Although the rebellion, led by the Duke of Monmouth, took place in 1685 and only lasted a few short weeks, it is commemorated to this day in Lyme. The ‘rebellious’ town of Lyme and its people suffered for their Protestant sympathies. It was an extraordinary time of bravery, fiery passions and ultimately grief. That is the story we hope to tell, perhaps as it has never been told before.
The scene that was worked on was the opening scene that involves disembodied voices that became more bodied as the evening wore on! It’s striking how what starts as a reading can become a performance in the course of an evening, how even the smallest of parts can offer so much in interpretation. To set the scene: There is a group of seemingly disparate women awaiting the arrival of an older woman. Who are they? Where are they? The woman they are expecting, they are in awe of, but jealous too even uncomfortable in her presence. This woman is Alice Hawkier (a fictional character) who has been in exile in France for many, many years. A woman whose whole life has been shaped by her association and indeed her love for the Duke of Monmouth. This will be her story, her epitaph for she is at the end of her life. Has she come here to die? To confess? For vengeance? Alice is played by Lyme stage stalwart, Anne King and for those of you familiar with Anne, a sterling local talent, you know you are going to see an excellent performance. In fact it is already a great performance! As the evening progressed not only did we discuss the motivation of each and every character, but we argued on the essence of history itself, how suffering and destruction resounds through the ages, how our lives are shaped by what has gone before. And you thought we just sat around reading lines and drinking tea! Okay, admittedly, we did have tea, but in an astonishing oversight, particularly for those of us involved in The Tempest of Lyme, the bourbons and custard creams were entirely absent. It may not seem a huge deal, but I think the Trustees should look closely at the whole issue of snack provisions at rehearsals.
The next rehearsal is a full read-through by the cast where very quickly things will begin falling into place. Watch this space. If anyone wants to be involved in the production please contact the theatre. There is still time to help financially to assist the production of this wonderful venture and who knows, the cast could end up with chocolate hob-nobs!