The Music of Time

Norma Palmer who played the modern-day Jewess, Sara, took us to her memories of the elimination of her family in Austria during WW2.  Scene written by Laura Machin.

This production, aimed at developing the theatre-making skills of community members, was performed on 27th-30th November 2013. The creative process began in April 2013 when Nick Stimson, a noted theatre director and playwright, led a workshop on the theme of the project. Further workshops followed on writing, acting, directing and visual imagery led by John Somers with the aim of adding to the skills of participants.

The Music of Time was, as with all of TVCT’s work, completely original. Following extensive research, it was written by twelve playwrights ranging in age from 11 to 74. Staged by a team of ten directors, it included paired scenes based on the themes of health, energy, education, family life, religion, politics, and agriculture & industry, showing glimpses of the topics in the 1940s/50s (the youth of the older participants) and the 2080s (the older years of the younger participants). The 14 scenes were directed by 11 directors. The drama was framed by original instrumental and choral music (music by Charles West and lyrics by Nick Pruce with Steve Chapman on bass guitar) and back-projected graphics (designed by Tim Woolgar) to provide the scene settings. Performed ‘side on’ in Payhembury Hall, new lighting bars were fitted to the walls and extensive use made of theatre lanterns (Martin Payne). The music was delivered by a choir of eighteen men and women with Nick Lear as soloist providing the ‘ethical frame’ for the issues raised by the production. 75 people of great age-range were involved on and off-stage and in production roles.

Two girls (Joyce: Katie Rampersad and Dot: Catherine Davies) in a scene (writer and director Norma Palmer) which dealt with the different educational opportunities which depended on family wealth.  Mother of Dot: Vicky Davies.

As with previous TVCT work, this production benefitted from the excellent skills of Ali Owen (stage manager), Norma Palmer (costume) and Pete Privett (sound). The striking poster design was done by Daniel Loveday and the programme – sold as a ticket and containing essential background information to each scene/theme – was designed by James Batten.

The ‘Energy Future’ scene, written and directed by Laura Machin.  L to R Clare Moughton, Katie Rampersad, Ella Kimber, Millie Porteous and Norma Palmer.

The complex visual images, projected onto screens which backed the three stage areas and created by three powerful, wide-angle data projectors, were arranged and operated by Tony Treen.

Henry, one of two very realistic robots, runs out of charge on the way to bed with his mistress (Anne Dalton and Steve Aldridge).  Writer Anne Dalton, director John Krafft.

Two Polish actors, Natalia and Linda spent two weeks in Payhembury, attending rehearsals and seeing the first night performance. They were very interested in the nature of Community Theatre and hope to apply this practice in Poland. Our thanks to Anne Dalton who hosted them during their stay.

Elaine Nicholas (standing) and Laura Machin in Laura’s scene about the Jews in Austria in WW2.  Directors Laura Machin and John Somers.

The production attracted many positive comments and a few less enthusiastic ones.

“I very much enjoyed 'The Music of Time', including Charles' compositions, the interesting writing, effective acting and directing, the projections and capable back stage teams, and so much valuable planning and relational work. A really good evening - thought provoking and humorous. It was great to see so many people of all ages involved - a wonderful project creating a lovely sense of community across the generations!”

Featured below is a photo gallery of the production - you can click on any photo to start a slideshow. Full-size copies of photos can be acquired from John Somers at j.w.somers@ex.ac.uk.