Sunday, 7 June 2009


Well, one week on and the dust has settled from what was a wonderful debut performance by the Belfast Mystery Players. As usual, I must apologise at the start of this post for leaving it as long as a week. Unfortunately, I had two 5,000 word essays to write and hand in last Thursday, so was kept frantically busy after the performance until now doing actual assessed work! Who'd have thought it?

But I am now a man of leisure, and so can begin the long, but hopefully rewarding process of wrapping up 'If I Should Fall From Grace With God', which no doubt will stretch into more posts than this blog has previously hosted, but it should be worth it.

I suppose as good a place as any to begin would be the final, frantic week. Having wrapped up our last regular, weekly rehearsals, we went into the final week with a much busier schedule. As almost everyone on the team was involved with exams/essays etc it proved difficult (and by difficult I mean impossible) to get everyone together at once. As it was, it turned out the performance itself was the first and unfortunately final time we ever had the whole team in the same place at once, scary. Anyway, on Wednesday, at about midday, we gathered at House 4 (our base for the whole project). To keep everyone quite literally sweet I brought sweets and chocolates. We'd done plenty of work inside, so once we eventually got everyone gathered we headed outside. We had, in the first week, rehearsed the Joseph and Mary show outside, but weather prevented us from doing that again. So we began, appropriately enough, at the beginning - in front of the Main Gates at Queen's, with Lorraine's lovely rendition of our 'calling-on-song' 'This is the Truth' (a traditional English song, the lyrics to which I adapted and altered to fit the narrative our play). Then Daisy & Bridget, our hilarious Expositors practiced their comedy double-act, and brought the good souls and the bad through the gates.

The Expositors - a.k.a The Daisy and Bridget Show

Unfortunately, God couldn't be with us that day, so we had to skip The Creation of the Universe and head straight to Eden, where Adam and Eve (Gerard and Lauren respectively) got to hide amongst foliage for the very first time, with myself standing in for God, and Lorraine standing in for her missing-in-action angelic coworker.

Adam (Gerard) awaits his creation - and rather likes it!

Next up was the Fall of Man, which was carried by Lauren's wonderful vocal projection and some superb comic timing from Gerard.

Lucifer (Dave) ponders Eve's (Lauren) attire. Notice the open script on the grass.

Finally, we wrapped up with the well-oiled machine that was the Joseph and Mary show and so concluded our first (almost) complete on-site run through.

The assembled cast and crew watch the Joseph and Mary show.

After a quick lunch break, we headed back outside again and went through everything once again, by which point the thing was really starting to take shape, although anxieties still remained as to whether our poorly Deus would make the big night, and whether we'd get the Creation rehearsed!

Having gone home and watched a bitterly disappointing Champions League final, I decided God couldn't be doubly cruel to me in a week and would smile on the rest of the performance, and so after a much deserved (and frankly, due to exam commitments, needed!) Thursday off, we gathered on Friday evening, at 5, at House 4, for the...dress-rehearsal!

Thankfully, God and everyone else were present. Not so fortunately, we had earlier in the week received the disappointing news that Siobhan, one of our original angels, would have to pull out of the project. As our second angel to pull out, we were left with only one original angel, Ms Deficiens, played by the lovely Rachael. We began to get rather worried, but luckily Lorraine's friend and now fellow-angel Tina stepped in at the last minute for Siobhan, and more than did herself justice on such short notice. Having ironed out all such casting problems, we were good to go. Or so we thought...

Having gotten everyone into our glad-rags and headed outside (including, for the first time, me with my lovely guitar) we set up shop in front of Queen's. We encountered some typically bemused passers-by, but many were interested rather than annoyed. However, it soon became apparent that due to another event being held at Queen's that night, students were frankly, unwelcome. This threatened to put the kibosh on our rehearsing the Creation outside for the first time. It seems there were worries that visiting American journalists wouldn't appreciate seeing rehearsals of a student play (never, students at a university! Doing creative things! The cheek!) However, while waiting in the black and white hall with my wings and guitar I had a chat (and posed for pictures!) with some lovely young Americans - clearly they didn't mind our presence all that much.

Eventually we got the all-clear to proceed, and got the Creation rehearsed. It was far from smooth, due to some fluffed lines and unsure stage-moves all round, but we were cautiously optimistic we'd have time the next day to iron things out. After that, we headed into the quad and had a stressful, but very fruitful run through of the rest of the show. On top of our earlier problems, our rehearsals were unfortunately disturbed by what I must say were some frankly rude passers-by. As a student, I am often irritated and disappointed by criticism in the press and the wider-world of students and their behaviour. However, while some students rather guiltily (but quietly) made their way round our rehearsal, we were on a number of occasions interrupted by (to put it politely) some non-student older members of the public completely disregarding any modicum of politeness by either walking through our rehearsal or plonking themselves right in the middle of where we were staging and having very loud conversations. As 'authentic' as such disturbances might be to a mystery play, they were very disappointing, and on top of the less than warm welcome we received from some parties, once more illustrated the ignorance and unnecessary difficulties students must fight against to enjoy their time at the universities they must unjustly pay for the privilege of attending. While I must say that everyone we approached or who approached us during the course of this project from within university was incredibly enthusiastic and helpful, it is nevertheless a shame there are still elements around who treat students as second-class citizens.

Anyway, off my soapbox for now. Knackering as it was, and although problems still remained, we were hopeful that if the performance on the night was at least as good as the dress rehearsal, it wouldn't be a total disaster. Luckily, our lingering worries were completely unfounded...

Lest this post turn into a 5,000 word essay (I'm kind of in the habit of such things at the mo!) I shall pause there and return tomorrow to narrate D-Day, the performance. After that, expect a roundup of all the lovely reviews we've received both online and off-, and shortly, the gathering of pics and films, and the posting of songs and scripts. On the subject of pics and films, we've already been generously sent pictures and videos from plenty of those in the audience. If anyone reading this has any other pictures or films, regardless of quality, we would love to see them. So, get in touch! We'd be delighted to hear from you via our facebook page or gmail account (both to the left). Until tomorrow then...


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