Our past, our present and our future -
Be part of it
Next September (2007), over 1,600 people living in and around the village of Cradley will share a very special experience when history is brought to life. A new play, with a cast of over 100 and involving people from the age of nine to ninety, will provide the window on to key events that have helped shaped the Herefordshire village that exists today.
Beginning in 1977 and working back to cover eight decades, the play is based on memories. These have been gleaned from long standing residents who know the impact that agriculture, the village school and the first world war had on the future of their families. Supplemented by fact from archived recordings and photographs, the play is a hugely ambitious project that is set to bring the whole community together in celebration.
This is your invitation to be part of the Cradley Village Play.
The challenge ahead
The theatre production and acting talent that exists in Cradley and its surrounding villages is significant but the new play will demand much of everyone. It needs enthusiasm, dedication, experience, youthful vitality and of course money.
The aim is to transform all of this into a highly professional production that will transport key characters from the past to the present day: a father who left for the Western Front in 1914 and never returned and who exists as a name on the village memorial; a shellshocked and wounded soldier who became the village postman and who walked an estimated 15,000 miles over forty years to deliver letters and packages; the dinner ladies who dominated village school events and the members of the Women's Institute who in 1960 visited the far off and exotic city of Paris - all these people and many more, feature in the play as representatives of a thriving community surrounded by the farming land it lived and worked on.
Central to the play is the Crown family. We begin on the day before the local celebrations of Queen Elizabeth I1’s jubilee. It is twenty five years since the Queen's accession to the throne. The day also sees the family coming together to celebrate grandfather's 80th birthday. Presented with a magic lantern, Grandfather Crown reminisces about village life with the help of a series of projected images. These are actual photographs of old Cradley that have been preserved on glass slides in the village archive for decades. Thanks to the lantern, we are able to join the 1897 Jubilee celebration for Queen Victoria’s sixtieth year on the throne. We also mourn with the Crown family during the Great War and laugh with the amateur dramatics involved in a 1922 production of The Pied Piper. We feel the sweat of hop pickers in the 1940s and finally complete the circle to join the song and dance of the village's 1977 celebrations.
A production of such scope and ambition requires and provides opportunities for a large and varied cast. As many residents of the village as possible, with a wide range of interests, abilities and backgrounds, will be included. Cradley is a busy community that largely functions in ‘vertical’ social groups; its many organisations are self-sufficient and quite narrow in their social appeal. The village play aspires towards a ‘horizontal’ constitution with its participants representing the community, across the community. Of course, they are, individually, bell ringers, bridge players, members of the sports or youth clubs; collectively, they are people of Cradley who have this project in common.
The performers, many of them on the stage for the very first time, will learn self-confidence, team work, skills of movement and voice projection. The production team will develop effective means of communication and organisation; the technical team will offer and practise talents as makers and doers. The audience will share a history and culture right across the range of ages and experience. In every sense, this is a cooperative venture, hugely enjoyable both to audiences and participants alike. The long-term benefits to the community as a whole will be immeasurable.
For further information please contact Peter or Rosemary Diamond on 01886 880367