A screening of a new film from King's College London and Windrose Rural Media Trust with talks and a question and answer session with the film makers.Wednesday 12 April, 5.30pm to 6.45pm on Zoom
It was a movement that swept the country and was imitated abroad. Over more than a century it galvanised hundreds of thousands in great performances of costume and song. It involved ordinary people in some of the mightiest events of their lives. It was an experience that they never forgot.
In 1905 the extravagantly named Louis Napoleon Parker had an idea. A playwright and impresario, he devised an immense pageant in Sherborne, Dorset, performed by local people, re-enacting the history of the town in the place where it actually happened. The community was inspired. There were 900 actors, musicians, costume makers and organisers; not to mention 50 horses.
The performance took place in the open air, in the ruins of Sherborne Castle. Special trains carried visitors from London. Audiences of 30,000 people witnessed the performance.
Ever the publicist, Parker commissioned a film of a dress rehearsal and had it shown in London to attract major attention. Excerpts from that film, along with archive films of subsequent pageants appear in Restaging the Past which, for the first time, relates the story of the pageant movement.
Professor Paul Readman (King's College London), Professor Mark Freeman (UCL - University College London) and a team of colleagues, long fascinated by the development and impact of historical pageants, have completed a major research project
which has uncovered the extent to which communities all over the UK took to pageantry as an expression of local pride and as an outlet for hidden performance talents.
Restaging the Past, made by Windrose Rural Media Trust, draws upon this research and reveals how towns and cities developed the pageant idea, both in style and scope, until some pageants had casts of many thousands, more recent history was re-enacted, and modern technology was engaged. The film looks at the pageants of Sherborne (1905), St. Albans (1907, 1948 and 1953), Carlisle (1928, 1951 and 1977), Birmingham (1938), Guildford (1977 and 1987) and Farnham (1950).
The film shows some of the amazing ephemera that was produced to commemorate pageants and features the experiences of people who were closely involved. The role of Pageant Masters, performers and costume makers are recounted first hand. Not everything was easy. Juliet Renny, wife of Surrey Pageant Master David Clarke, says "It was just an awful rush... for forty years to be honest!"
And pageantry is not dead. The film begins and ends with the preparation and performance of the 2022 Axbridge Pageant in Somerset; a pageant which is renewed every ten years.
- Tickets £5
- Please book a place online. After payment has been received, attendees will be sent their unique Zoom link and password.