Art Plumstead’s Midsummer event was a bit different in style from the last couple of years, having a different artistic director, but it took place on the 21st June as before, and there were still a few floral headdresses to be seen to help set the mood as well as the knee tremblers from last year.
Starting at The Star Inn, there was a chance to mingle and for the early birds to have first dibs on a variety of jaunty head adornments, freshly constructed from local greenery that very day. This prepared them for a brief synopsis of the tale of The Plumstead Wyrm (pronounced worm), penned by our own Poet Laureate Dee, whereby the key players of the piece were identified before a brief rhyme, accompanied by a ringing of bells, explained how everyone would know when it was approaching time to move on. Naturally, it included the words ‘Hey Nonny-Nonny-No’ as you would expect.
The assembled party then moved in a suitably jolly fashion to The Old Mill where the Resident described what a Wyrm is and what is a Penwyrm – someone who helps the Wyrm. With another jangle of bells, all present trotted off down the steps to the Slade Pond. Here, the Wyrm spoke for the first time to describe its birth on Shooters Hill in the River Woghbourne that ran down to the Thames. Jelly worms were distributed to munch on the next stage of the journey.
After the bells jangled for the penultimate time, the audience climbed up the opposite flight of steps, walked past the young men playing volleyball and all the way to the far end of Winns Common. This was the setting for the waves and the wind to give advice to the Wyrm, describing local characters, some of whom seemed to bear a remarkable resemblance to certain members of Art Plumstead. The knee tremblers and party blowers were issued to the participants who went clattering down Purrett Road and into the Plume of Feathers. By now, the person who was to play the Wyrm had mysteriously disappeared.
The grand finale in which the Wyrm and lover are reunited took place in the garden of The Plume of Feathers. Just to add to the excitement there had been recent works undertaken to excavate the old Anderson Shelter since the previous planning visit by Art Plumstead. This meant the Wyrm had to make a last minute change of hiding place (against the wall with a few wisps of ivy pulled across) before emerging. Thanks to a couple of handy umbrellas and a biddable audience who were happy to be shepherded into the lower part of the garden, no-one suspected a thing. As the imaginary curtain fell, there was a round of applause, the playwright heaved a sigh of relief and beer a-plenty was consumed before those who remained to the last tottered back up to the Common where a memento of the nights revelry was suitably displayed.
The Woghbourne today – Home of the Wyrms.
The attachment below is the script with directions.
The Plumstead Wyrm A.P. website copy.
And this is the bibliography.
The Plumstead Wyrm Bibliography version 2