We enjoyed another good turn-out for part two of our birthday celebrations at Bluntisham Village Hall on Saturday. We say it every time, but we really do mean it – thank you to everyone who comes along to see our shows and support us, we really do appreciate it.
It must be said that Saturday night didn’t entirely pass off without any hitches. There was a noticeable delay before the start of the raffle. Rumours of raffle fraud were starting to circulate, but then a suspicious-looking character was found lurking in the bar with the tombola. Having a bar on-site is always risky when there are actors involved. The gentleman in question cannot be identified for legal reasons, but I can reveal that his name sounds like “Snick”. As in, “who’s that?” “Snick”.
On a more serious note, we know that there were problems with restricted visibility for those people sat at the back and this is something we will try to address if we do another “no stage” show in Blunty. For our next production we’ll be back to our usual arrangement, up on stage and with cabaret-style seating.
On an even more serious note, now that the show is in the bag it’s fair to say we nearly didn’t have a show at all. We had originally wanted to put on a production of It’s a Wonderful Life but were unable to cast it (it is something we want to return to in future though). We looked at a couple of other plays, needing progressively fewer actors, but were unable to cast them either. For a while it looked like we wouldn’t have a show at all this Autumn. Then three things happened in relatively quick succession – someone (I’m not sure whom) realised that this year was our 20th anniversary, Ron suggested Is This Seat Taken? and offered to direct it, and Jackie volunteered to put together a selection of sketches and music. At the 11th hour we got ourselves a show, and like Cinderella we could go to the ball after all (alright!). Both Jackie and Ron deserve a lot of credit for putting Take Your Seat together, and doing so in record time after the delays and set-backs we suffered earlier in the year. Credit too should go to the actors who learned their respective parts on a much reduced rehearsal schedule. Parts of the show were still coming together in production week, when normally we’re swanning around in our costumes and planning the after-show party.
Chairman Ron is keen to avoid such problems for our next production and so we’ll be making a start on that almost immediately. Those of you who Took Your Seats will have heard his announcement of what that show will be. For the rest of you, I can reveal that we will be… giving more details on our website soon. Always leave them wanting more!
Now, as it’s our birthday, you haven’t got any more of that delicious cake, have you…?
Our 20th anniversary celebrations got off to a flyer last night as the good people of Colne (and beyond) joined us at Colne Village Hall for the first of our two nights of Take Your Seat. So many of them took their seats that we almost ran out of seats! It was more or less a full house. An enormous thank you to everyone who came along.
Right, time to get back on the tour bus and head off to Bluntisham for tonight’s show!
Actually it was 20 years ago a week last Tuesday, give or take a month or two either way, but who’s counting?
Back in 1997 Christine had the idea to start an Am Dram group.
And so it came to pass that the Millennium Players (as we were known back then) were born. Those who were at the very first meeting still talk of it in hushed tones. One, who shall remain nameless, speaks of going along to “volunteer to help with publicity” only to be told in no uncertain terms by Christine that “you look like an actor to me”. Maybe that ignited some latent theatrical spark, or maybe he was too afraid to say no, but either way he went on to star in many productions (as well as helping out with publicity).
The millennium itself came and went and we became BaCStage. To date we have put on forty shows, ranging through comedy, farce, drama, melodrama and, of course, pantomime (oh yes we have).
We have performed at several local venues including the Green Man and Village Hall in Colne, St Helen’s Primary School, the Baptist Chapel and St Mary’s Church Hall in Bluntisham and, as part of our 2016 World Tour we ventured as far as Pidley.
Our main venue for more than a decade though has been Bluntisham Village Hall, ever since it was built to our exact specifications. OK, so, I’m exaggerating slightly there, but if you’ve been to Blunty Village Hall have you ever wondered why the doors are so tall? It is not to accommodate actors and their big heads and enormous egos but instead to allow ingress and egress for our stage sets and assorted other bits and pieces, and to allow actors to make their entrances and exits on a raised platform without need to stoop or risk of banging their heads (the “raised platform” is called a “stage” – Theatrical Ed).
Although some of those early pioneers have retired from acting service many have stayed in touch and remain part of the wider BaCStage family. We have also welcomed many new faces to the group, and are truly blessed with some very talented individuals both on-stage and behind the scenes. We have had a lot of fun along the way, many friendships have been forged and, we like to think, we’ve entertained a few people too. We also have plenty of exciting ideas for future productions. Here’s to the next 20 years!
But how to mark such a momentous occasion as our 20th birthday? With a show, of course!
As soon as we decided to put on a show to celebrate our 20th, Nick got to work building us a set. This led to an awkward exchange at the first production meeting. “We want a travelling set with minimal carrying, not a ten-tonne set with a mediaeval abbey in”
At least he hadn’t started on the drawbridge.
Oh well, I’m sure someone will find a use for it.
Yes, after the fun we had “travelling light” on our 2016 World Tour we decided to once again opt for a stripped-down approach for our 20th Anniversary show “Take Your Seats”. After all, it’s only right and proper that we perform it in both Bluntisham and in Colne, and getting our full stage and set constructed usually takes the best part of a weekend on its own. Those gallons of tea don’t drink themselves you know.
We do hope you can join us at one (or both!) of our anniversary shows. Tickets are onsale now through TicketSource and from Bluntisham Service Station.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what those forty previous shows are then pay a visit to our back catalogue page.
Bluntisham’s most famous resident Dorothy L Sayers is being honoured next weekend in the Spirit of Sayers festival taking place at St Mary’s Church on Saturday and Sunday. As part of the celebrations BaCStage are performing a specially commissioned short play Must We Go To Bluntisham? at 3.30pm on each day.
As the actors are performing mid-afternoon there is no danger of it becoming a Gaudy Night.
(No actual whimsies were harmed in the making of this post – Ed.)
In a couple of weekends from now we will be taking part in the Spirit of Sayers festival. This is a community arts festival taking place at St Mary’s Church, Bluntisham, on 16 and 17 September, celebrating the creative spirit of Dorothy L Sayers who spent much of her childhood in Bluntisham.
BaCStage will be performing a specially commissioned short play called Must We Go to Bluntisham? on both days at 3.30 pm. Details of all the festival events are in the programme, including a concert featuring the Meridian Voices; a flower festival; art, local history, and craft displays; a vintage tea room and an historic Bake Off competition.
We have good news and bad news for you, dear reader.
First, the bad news. Unfortunately we have had to shelve our plans for the production of It’s a Wonderful Life that we had intended to stage later this year. In the end we were unable to cast it. We fully intend to return to it at a later date.
The good news is that we have not one but two other shows in production for this autumn. In September we are taking part in the Spirit of Sayers festival celebrating the creative spirit of Dorothy L Sayers, one of Bluntisham’s most famous former residents. In October we will be marking BaCStage’s 20th anniversary with a one-act play and various sketches. Watch this space for more details on both productions, coming soon.