Impetus – The newsletter of the Imperial Players
A message from our Chairman:
As you cannot have failed to notice, COVID-19 lockdown has had a huge impact on all areas of culture and society, not least the performing arts. Social distancing is the ‘new normal’ and indeed the new expectation, making both rehearsing and performing problematic. If you knew what 2020 held in store back in mid-late 2019 then perhaps the most enterprising thing to have done would have been to invest in shares in Zoom!! Many of us have had to decamp to Zoom and virtual social gathering just to keep in touch and maintain contact.
IMPS has also had to go virtual and so we have had fortnightly play readings with members taking responsibility to select a couple of 1-act plays to read each time. These have been good times for catching up with member news generally, for supporting each other during these strange and sometimes exceedingly difficult, life-threatening times and for aiding the selection process of plays for the future. Quite what that future looks like for us is still not clear. We have been grateful to The Crown for the use of their function room to both rehearse and perform in and the performance/meal deals have been appreciated by our audiences. However, social distancing requirements means we can seat even fewer people into the ‘intimate’ function room. Meanwhile, it also limits the seating capacity of the church hall used for more major productions and makes them even less economically viable than they were before. So, watch this space!!
We continue to meet fortnightly through Zoom to read plays. Our priority, looking forward, is to put on ‘Class War’ which had to be ‘pulled’ a week before performance due to the pandemic. We also look forward to progressing the joint production with Pratts Bottom Drama Society which also had to be put on hold at short notice.
Please do keep in touch and let us know how you are doing. We’d love to see you at one of our Zoom play-reading evenings… email Andy on email@example.com to receive the meeting details.
Keep safe and God bless!
We had been looking forward to putting on our latest murder mystery event in March, just before the world turned upside down. Rehearsals had been going well and an enthusiastic cast had worked hard to learn their lines and moves and been extremely patient as Gordon and I made changes to the script as we went along. Costumes and props were sorted, posters and programmes designed, lighting and sound ready to go and all those other roles (front of house, prompt, props etc) organised. As usual, despite being a small group, offers to help were abundant and support for the project wholehearted.
With a week to go, we had virtually sold out for the three nights performances, with a waiting list on two nights. Most tickets had been sold before any publicity went out as the cast and members had spread the word. We have loyal and supportive regulars who enjoy the murder mysteries, despite being insulted and occasionally arrested by the police!
Arrangements with the fantastic team at the Crown were in place, the menu agreed and tables allocated. They had introduced additional measures such as hand sanitiser to address the growing concerns about Covid 19. The staff there enjoy these events too and we are very lucky to have the continuing support of the management.
So it was with a heavy heart that on 16th March we decided to postpone the production, just before the government announced the lockdown. All the audience had to be contacted and refunds offered, although many people told us to keep the money to pay for their tickets for the next production – whenever that is!
We plan to put Class War on as soon as it is safe to do so. Gordon and I have met to rework parts of the script so we should be ready to start rehearsals again when we get the green light. In the meantime, a huge thank you to all those involved in the production for all your hard work and support.
“St Anthony, St Anthony please come around, something is lost and must be found”
You may have heard of St Anthony. He is the patron saint of the poor and many prayers have been said to him asking for his help in finding lost articles. Well, I had cause to call on his services recently on a family holiday to Cornwall.
As some of you know, I am recovering from a nasty bout of COVID and was looking forward to a quiet spell recuperating in Cornwall. I had booked a house, together with my brother, Colin and cousin Karen, near the coast in Padstow. It just so happened that other members of our wider family were also staying nearby in Rock in a house that overlooked Porthilly Cove, a quite exclusive area, evidenced by the fact that Gordon Ramsey had purchased the house next door but one, only to have it knocked down and rebuild a brand new multi-storied building nestling into the slopes leading to the beach, and which also included a separate panoramic studio where he will shortly start filming episodes of his cooking show.
If I can diverge – Ronnie Corbett style – from this account for a short while, I would add that two weeks after our stay here, we learned that the “Beckhams” were staying with Gordon Ramsey and that they had had a Fish and Chip Supper in “The Mariners” pub/restaurant, a short distance from the properties and, the same place that we had dined and where we also had Fish and Chips – us trendsetters!
My wider family (the Fields) are quite active and their idea of a relaxing holiday in Cornwall differs from mine. The house they were staying in, like Gordon Ramsey’s also led down to the beach of Porthilly Cove. This Cove is about a mile square and when the tide is out it is possible to walk right across it to a beautiful little 13th Century Church and get a great view of the Camel estuary and Padstow. When the tide is in, however, the Cove is completely covered and, I reckon at its highest point is at least 12 feet deep. This does, of course, provide a great recreational arena for swimming, paddle boarding and canoeing among other activities.
The Fields persuaded me to take to a paddleboard, assuring me that the effort involved is probably no more than what my hospital “physio-terrorist” would, in any case, recommend as part of my daily exercise and recovery routines. With life jacket duly donned and a safety strap secured I took to the water, reassuring myself that this would not be too strenuous and just what the doctor ordered. As it happens, I took to the paddleboard quite well, and whilst I was very tired, I felt comfortable in repeating the “exercise” a couple of days later.
This time I went further out into the bay, almost to the far side. My cousin, John, and his wife Denise joined me in their canoes and soon John suggested that we should swap our craft as the canoe would provide even better exercise for my arms. We paddled into a nearby rocky inlet where it was shallow and swapped over. We thought it would be interesting to see if any of our fellow holiday companions noticed that I left in a paddleboard and returned almost inexplicably in a canoe. So, once we had exchanged vessels and I was sat in the canoe, I set off crossing back over the bay.
I was nervous as the canoe seemed just that little bit more unstable, but John assured me it would be easy. His words “Don’t worry Martin, it’s impossible to overturn these canoes” were still ringing in my ears when I found myself bobbing in the water with the upturned canoe floating alongside me. Denise, who had kept close to me during my recovery in hospital and had liaised with the doctors and nursing staff was immediately on the case and was paddling to my rescue. I suspect she may have been concerned about explaining to my consultant how my family had assisted greatly with my COVID recovery only to see me off in a tragic canoeing accident in Cornwall!
Paul (John and Denise’s youngest son) also joined the rescue party. I won’t explain how we managed to right the canoe, empty it of water and drag me safely back onto the nice and stable paddleboard, but just suffice to say it couldn’t have been a pretty sight and I’m still not sure how we managed it in the middle of the bay. I can remember the puzzled look on Paul’s face as he said he had never seen anyone overturn a canoe in the way that I had. I returned to the safety of the shore thinking that I could put this all down to experience, call on another of my nine lives, and duly retire from canoeing…… for the rest of my life.
As the shore party were learning of our high seas adventure, I saw my brother looking at what is left of my bedraggled hair. Thinking he was also concerned about my recovery, he enquired if I had my glasses on when disaster struck – of course, I did. By this time, the glasses were probably merrily bobbing out to sea as the tide was on the turn, so I began to reconcile myself to the prospect of forking out several hundred pounds for a replacement pair. Later that evening, after having enjoyed a lovely meal on the patio with a bright moon, Matthew (the eldest son of John and Denise and a Captain in the Army) decided he wanted to put his military training into practice and declared that he was going to see if he could find my glasses now that the tide was fully out. Given that Porthilly Cove was a rocky inlet and had plenty of seaweed strewn slippery rocks, I thought this would be a hapless task – not to mention the fact that it was now quite dark. Anyway, he together with Paul and two other youngsters set off with their helmet torches on and full of optimism. I offered a £50 reward should they return with the glasses – quite a bargain considering the cost of a brand-new pair.
The house had a fantastic viewing point on the first floor – a large oval window looking right across the bay. So, I sat there and watched the expedition set forth. I saw these little lights head across the bay, up the incline on the other side, move some distance on land out to the end of the cove and then back down through the rocks and slippery seaweed to the furthest part of the bay. It was quite amusing watching these lights bob up and down meticulously scouring the now shallow part of the bay where I had taken my early bath. Every now and then, the lights would euphorically come together as if someone was declaring they had found the glasses, only for this to be followed by a downwards dipping movement as if expressing disappointment at what was probably only a discarded bottle or some other piece of spectacle imitating plastic. I continued watching this light show for about half an hour in the knowledge that my £50 was safe.
Eventually, the light show ended, and the explorers returned. I went downstairs to greet them, thank them for their valiant efforts and do my best to dispel their disappointment by emphasising the fact that they had at least had some fun – “Find the Glasses” could be a new party game that could be periodically enjoyed on future occasions. “Little Matthew” had a slightly different appearance – he was suddenly wearing spectacles that were far too big for him. “Big Matthew” then handed them over. At first, I didn’t recognise them, partly because they were slightly muddy, but also because I thought it too incredulous that they could have been found and were still intact. Putting them on, and with my eyes beginning to focus, I could indeed confirm they were mine. I gladly paid over the reward, which was shared by the two youngest members of Porthilly Cove’s newly formed Air, Sea and Rescue Service.
That was not, however, the end of St Anthony’s efforts on this holiday. The following day Denise was baking some homemade Peanut butter cookies. During the process, it was noted that a small piece of the electric mixer had gone missing. Fearing that it was in the mix, and with two babies in the family party one of whom was old enough to chomp his way through a Cookie, but not necessarily a mixer accessory, the mix was subject to the most intrusive battering and prodding but the piece did not reveal itself. Next, a small search party was established to scrutinise the cooking surfaces and floor – another military-style operation was again in place. Six people were eventually meticulously sweeping the floor. My brother’s suggestion that they should perhaps wait until the tide went out, whilst helpful, was not taken up. The piece, we thought was lost. Until that is the following morning when cousin Karen was happily chomping her way through a Cookie, and yes, with a brash clanging together of teeth, the piece was found, not swallowed, extensively cleaned and
returned to its rightful place in the mixer!
Zoom Play Readings
I have found our Zoom Play Reading Evenings very worthwhile joining. As the Imps. often met for readings in previous years, they have, in my opinion, brought us a touch of normality. We usually read two half-hour plays, normally at least one comedy. After a few minutes of chat to check how everyone is, Andy asks for volunteers to read parts and we launch into the text. Zoom allows us to put on accents show facial expressions since we can see one another. Everyone who wants to has the chance of reading.
The next Zoom play reading is on Thursday 10th September at 8 pm. If you have not joined a session before, please email Andy on firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the meeting details.
If you have an article you feel would be suitable for inclusion in our next Impetus please email me.