Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"World Premiere At Keswick"

Years ago, I met Melvyn Bragg in my local Town Hall.
Lord Bragg was there to talk about his novel:" A Time To Dance".
This seductive story about an unusual love affair caused quite a stir. If you didn't read it, you may have seen the TV adaptation, starring wonderful Derva Kirwan ( even before her arrival in " Ballykissangel".) I think all this was in 1992.
After Lord Bragg's talk, I bought the book. I joined the queue for his signature and on reaching his table, Lord Bragg glanced up, beamed and said:"Ah, it's you!"
My heart ( almost) fluttered. My book shivered in my fingers. So I waited. And he continued:
" Yes, I noticed you!"
My heart (almost) stopped. So I waited. And my book trembled. It actually trembled. Lord Bragg coughed.
Lord Bragg continued: " Yes, I've been watching you, all through my talk."
My heart stopped, it really did, but still he continued: " And do you know, my dear, I've got to tell you: I've never (ever) seen anyone look so...BORED!"

Hmm. I hadn't been bored, I really and truly hadn't. So I was stunned. SO I grinned at Lord Bragg inanely...until my lips probably hung round my ears.
And he smiled and said he hoped I'd enjoy his book...

But once home, in the privacy of my bathroom, I stared in the mirror and I grimaced and grinned and leered and pouted and still I wondered...

The w/end before last, we visited The Theatre On The Lake again, at Keswick. See http://www.theatrebythelake.com/
We were there for a showing of the world premiere of Bragg's novel " The Maid of Buttermere" published 1987 by Sceptre and now adapted for stage by Lisa Evans.
This story, set in 1802/03 and based on fact, tells the tale of a Buttermere Beauty called Mary Robinson. She marries an impostor, a bigamist, a rogue... who causes hearts to break and tragedy to unfold. Lisa Evans herself describes the book as " men behaving badly in the nineteenth century"...
It was an interesting production: There's a superb revolving set of mts and hillocks and lakes. There's a backcloth of Buttermere, where light changes magically with the seasons, with night and day. There's lots of live music, provided by piano, clarinet and flute, and there's singing and dancing and laughter too...amid the sorrow of Mary's sad tale.
Particularly special is the Company's use of its local Keswick people...some very talented folk too. Included was a Guest House owner, a Gap Year student, a Language teacher, a local architect, lots of school children...the list goes on.
AND in my view, THAT's a lovely part of what theatre is about...the gathering of community onto stage, the heady mix of professionals with Those Who Want To Be and Those Who Might Have Been.
Giving everyone opportunities, which is GREAT!


Blogger Claire Beynon said...

Hi Jan - oh dear, your Lord Bragg Moment; so full of potential (potency even!) and then to be told you looked '...BORED?!' I had to chuckle - the story reminded me of my days in Latin class when I was sure I looked captivated and engaged but failed to convince my teacher of the same!

Lovely the way the theatre company included the local community in the performance. More and more these days, group involvement seems to be the way forward, don't you find?

I've posted the image that reminded me of your friend Clare's Wegener Puzzle book, btw.

Good wishes to you from the South, Claire

8:43 pm  
Blogger Catherine said...

How embarrassing! I'm sure I look bored at times when I'm not, too, because I am as a friend described it "restrained"
Glad you enjoyed the performance.

10:55 am  
Blogger Anne S said...

Loved your description of your encounter with Melvyn Bragg - very funny.

I'm sure that's how I look in meetings at work, though being the public service nobody would ever comment on it. They think I'm crazy and eccentric anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

11:37 am  
Blogger Jon M said...

I know just how you feel! I met Eoin Colfer (a hero of mine) He was signing my son's books and I meant to say how he bought them all and loved them. It came out sounding like I was complaining about the amount of money he spent on books. I cringe to this day when I think back!

8:07 pm  
Blogger Kay said...

Oh dear! What to say? Any convincing otherwise just sounds like false remonstration! He must've been feeling a little unsure himself. At poetry readings I have looked out at the faces in an audience, and generally speaking, they do look bored ... I usually try and look for a smiley face for encouragement! But I wouldn't dream of 'watching' a bored expression and then complaining about it to them later!

6:41 am  
Blogger Isabelle said...

Goodness, what a shame!

A strange thing to say, but I think he must have been fishing for compliments really... and chatting you up in an oblique way...

9:19 pm  
Blogger sexy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:33 am  
Blogger Jan said...

It makes me wonder about my other facial expressions!

I bet your "restrained" face is a very nice one!

3 Cheers for crazy/eccentric YOU!

Im sure we all spend a lot of time On The CRinge, so to speak..!

I bet nobody looks bored in your readings, Kay!

Hmm. Fishing for compliments, eh??
I never thought of that one..

9:35 am  

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