Unicorn Theatre open day - helping out with the Studio Theatre Club
Today I got to help out at the Unicorn Theatre, Abingdon, which is the gorgeous converted medieval Abbey where my theatre group, the Studio Theatre Club, performs three or four times a year. The Friends of Abingdon, who keep the theatre up and running and organise all its events, decided to have an open day, featuring tours of the buildings, tea and coffee and cakes, and some live theatre and music to showcase the different uses of the venue.
The Studio Theatre Club had a stall, a bunch of actors in costume wandering about the place, and a bunch of slots throughout the day to perform on the stage. It meant that Rory and I got to do some songs as Hoverhawk, the folk duo/band we are sort of trying to start up, because he wrote some music for our production of As You Like It a few years ago. So we did those, and then some other folk songs for a couple of sets onstage. It wasn't packed, but there were a few people coming and going who seemed to enjoy a bit of a musical interlude!
One of the best bits for me was getting to see the Oxford Waits, who are somewhere between a historical reenactment group and a band, and who I've wanted to see for a while. They dress up in traditional costume, play Baroque instruments including the nyckelharpa, hammered dulcimer, and lute, and sing and play 17th-century ballads and tunes. Including one about a man choking to death on a custard tart! They were a lot of fun, with good showmanship and musical talent, and a really varied set. Some of the tunes I knew from having listened to other Early English groups play from Playford's The Dancing Master, a very famous collection of English folk tunes.
Since we don't often get to rehearse in the theatre itself until the week before the play, our current cast took advantage of the free stage to practice for their latest play, Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, which is a really fun comedy about a man who accidentally conjures the ghost of his dead wife during a séance. I'm not in this particular STC production, but since not all the actors could make it, I got to read in the part of Ruth, Mr Condemine's second wife. We all had a lot of fun, and it was exciting to see how it's already coming together well as a show, even though it hasn't been rehearsing for long.
Blithe Spirit will be on at the Unicorn Theatre in Abingdon, 26th-29th July. Book tickets here.