We are well into rehearsals for our first production since lockdowns came into force last year! We shall be performing two plays from Codpieces by Perry Pontac: Hamlet, Part II and Prince Lear.
They have been regularly performed on BBC radio and lend themselves perfectly for a filmed production. The playlets are parodies told in the form of prefaces and continuations: what happens after a returning ambassador turns up at the end of Hamlet or before Lear takes it into his head to share out his kingdom? Perry Pontac is an American who has lived and worked in London for over forty years and frequently works in radio drama. All of thirteen plays he has so far written for radio, exploit extreme situations and ornate language for comic purposes. With lines spoken of the late Laertes it could well be Shakespeare –
‘A corpse who even now
Is freshly festering in a nearby grave
With all the zest of youth’
These plays are not for the exclusivity of Shakespeare lovers but for those who enjoy absurdist comedy and brilliant writing. So, if you are wondering about the state of Denmark after Hamlet’s demise and how King Lear was duped into dividing up his kingdom book your tickets now!
We are delighted to be performing in a new venue: Codsall & Wergs Garden Centre. Parking is ample and there are no steps to negotiate. The seating is cabaret-style.
Back in September last year we felt that it had been way too long since Tettenhall Amateur Players had put on a production and we looked at ways of how to perform on-line. To get round the 2 metre distancing rule we were unable to continue rehearsing for ‘Harvey’ by Mary Chase due to the large cast.
We needed to find a play with a much smaller cast, a considerably shorter length of play and one which had little or no scenery to take up most of the acting area. Following lengthy discussions with the more technical members of the group and, following lots of play readings we came up with what we thought was a viable solution! We decided to perform two of Perry Pontac’s playlets from Codpieces; Hamlet, Part II and Prince Lear! We would film the productions and sell tickets on-line. With help and support from Bilston Rotarian Club we were on to a winner!
They have been regularly performed on BBC radio and lend themselves perfectly for a filmed production. The playlets are parodies told in the form of prefaces and continuations: what happens after a returning ambassador turns up at the end of Hamlet or before Lear takes it into his head to share out his kingdom? However, with a lockdown before Christmas and the current lockdown, which seems never ending, we have only managed to cast and distribute scripts.
Lines are supposedly being learnt but enthusiasm is probably a little lack-lustre! However, we are moving forward and are planning to film the production in June, subject to lockdown of course. We will then make a decision when tickets will go on sale and when the playlets will be available for viewing. So do watch this space . . .
Elwood P. Dowd is an affable man who claims to have an unseen (and presumably imaginary) friend Harvey — whom Elwood describes as a six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch (192 cm) tall pooka resembling an anthropomorphic rabbit. Elwood introduces Harvey to everyone he meets. His social-climbing sister, Veta, increasingly finds his eccentric behavior embarrassing. She decides to have him committed to a sanitarium. When they arrive at the sanitarium, a comedy of errors ensues. The young Dr. Sanderson mistakenly commits Veta instead of Elwood, but when the truth comes out, the search is on for Elwood and his invisible companion. When Elwood shows up at the sanitarium looking for his lost friend Harvey, it seems that the mild-mannered Elwood’s delusion has had a strange influence on the staff, including sanitarium director Dr. Chumley. Only just before Elwood is to be given an injection that will make him into a “perfectly normal human being, and you know what bastards they are!” (in the words of a taxi cab driver who has become involved in the proceedings) does Veta realize that she would rather have Elwood the same as he has always been — carefree and kind — even if it means living with Harvey. But the only reason Veta hears from the cab driver is that she can’t find her coin purse and has to get the cab fare from Elwood. That is when the cab driver sees what is happening and goes into his spiel. Later Veta realizes that the purse was there all along, but Harvey hid it from her.
Chase received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work in 1945. It has been adapted for film and television several times, most notably in a 1950 film starring James Stewart and Josephine Hull.