Friday 24 November 2006

Roar of the Greasepaint

The world's a theatre, the earth a stage,
Which God and Nature do with actors fill.

It seemed my villa lacked one thing appropriate for this fictional world we all inhabit - a stage. I did not play with dolls like other girls, but with puppets, marionettes, soldatini di carta - paper soldiers - and toy theatres from Benjamin Pollock's in Covent Garden. These last were magnificently printed on large sheets purchased for a tuppence, which I cut with nail pares and pasted to board. My theatres were elaborate constructions, complete with rising curtains, scenery flats, sulferous effects, and a cast of hundreds, as corps of paper soldiers frequently made guest appearances in The Millers Sons or The Maid and the Magpie, causing the women to swoon and giving the villains and rakes the beatings they deserved.

I mounted many productions for my own entertainment, drawing my own characters when I could not afford to purchase them, or when I could not find one appropriate among my players. I began writing for them: baroque, romantic plays filled with divine interventions, ghostly maidens avenging their faithless sweethearts, and exploding cannons!

For a short time many years ago, I took up that childish play again with an artist's conceit, and designed this little stage in watercolour. It was only when Osprey Therian mentioned her Christmas Pantomime project that I remembered it, and realized the pleasure I receive exploring This Life is no different from that I enjoyed as a child, pulling wires and declaiming in funny voices as my cut-out players slipped in and off stage.

I have earned a part in that Pantomime, or Music Hall production, and now I must think about my role.

Below is another design for another day.


Anonymous said...

Young Geoff - wouldn't it be excellent for us to act out one of your plays and capture that performance on video? I am excited at the thought!

Anonymous said...

Osprey, would that I could remember 'em! Centuries have passed since I last performed with my puppets - I have some of them still, in pieces, but the intricacies of the plots (I was a complicated child) have long since vanished. Send an email to and I shall reply with a script that might pass muster, however. The thought of a video performance does excite!

Anonymous said...

This is going to be superb.