I am a biographer working now on the story of British manufacturing. These are my thoughts on this subject and a number of other topics including my role as chair of the Lincoln Book Festival and former chair of Lincoln Drill Hall. My other blogs http://williamsmithwilliams.co.uk talk about my biography of the man who discovered Charlotte Brontë, and http://www.philwilliamswriter.co.uk about my books on how the army was supplied in the world wars, Dunkirk to D Day, Ordnance and War on Wheels
On the anniversary of some women first exercising their right
to vote, I was privileged to see two pieces of drama Made in Lincoln
The first, The World at their Feet, I had seen before at
Lincoln Drill Hall in November. This evening we saw the final scene without
props or theatre lighting. Maggie and I were moved to tears, as we had been
first time round. It was the combination of a story that mattered, great
writing, great direction and great acting. This was a performance by a
community theatre company, The Lincoln Mystery Players of a piece written and
directed in Lincoln. It was so powerful. I have no doubt at all that the writer
Stephen Gillard, director Sam Miles and a number of the players are heading for
The second, The Forgotten Suffragette, I am ashamed to say I
didn't hear first time round when it was broadcast on BBC Radio Lincolnshire.
It was acted by Phoebe Wall-Palmer and Rachel Baynton, ably supported by
theatre students and the incomparable Simon Hollingsworth. This fine piece of
writing was also Made in Lincoln by Proto-type Theater working with the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre. If World at her Feet
moved my emotions, the Forgotten Suffragette set my mind racing.
It matters that those setting out on a career have a place to perform and hone their art. It made me think more deeply about my
role as chair of the Lincoln Arts Trust, whose activity is the promotion of
arts and culture principally through the care and running of Lincoln Drill
Hall. It made me ask, 'what really matters?' Is it popular professional
performance that plays to full houses, or do I need to dig a little deeper?
This last year I have witnessed full houses, not least the
wonderful talk given to an audience ranging in age from eight to eighty by
Michael Morpurgo as part of the Lincoln Book Festival and, of course, the BBCProms and the Soldier's Tale. I have also been swept away by Les Miserables
performed by Jamie Marcus Productions with no cast member over the age of
nineteen. I have seen new work, where we paid what we thought. I can't wait to
see the Panto, also by Jamie and Julie Marcus and produced with such high
performance values with actors who know their craft.
Yet, when I do dig deeper, I find that the Panto reaches far
more people than anything else and, through it, young people have their first
taste of theatre which can result in a lifelong love. Our CEO Chris Kirkwood
has written further on this.
Many young people find their own skills in our Fishtank
Theatre Group, now also being run at the YMCA on Tritton Road. Some take part
on the New Youth Theatre who take over the Hall for a week of performances each
year. We have our monthly disco run by and enjoyed by people with disabilities.
Saturday lunchtime is where people come to meet and eat whilst listening to
talented musicians. Three times a year, Saturday is also when Compassionate
Lincoln hold their Big Soup in support of community initiatives. There is the community performances, as well as World at her Feet, pieces by Common Ground Theatre , performances by the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and the acclaimed Lincolnshire International Chamber Music Festival with their monthly concerts at the Hall.
In truth there is so much that matters.
Michael Morpurgo with Charlie Partridge - photography by Phil Crow