Tag Archives: music

Rain Didn’t Stop Play

Panto cast 6


Midsummer 2019 saw a first for Art Plumstead when they presented their own pantomime Jayden and the Beanstalk. Introduced by the world weary narrator in the guise of Dick Whittington’s cat, it told the tale of the dastardly Dick Day and his plans to drive people off the Common so he could build a vast mansion there. To assist him in his plans he had ordered a dragon from the website Wickedpedia (which his friend Dirty Dee Dudwin had told him about) to terrorise the denizens of Plumstead and kill off Ron Rattail, the organiser of the Community Market. However, because he had bought it cheaply it had one fatal weakness. More of that later.



For now, in Scene 2, life in the Community Market continued as usual, with the two long term stall holders (old friends and arch enemies) Sally and Millie selling their wares – bakery and macramé. Being unaware of Dicks fiendish plot they both had a crush on him. There was a certain amount of innuendo which naturally, none of the children understood. Quite a few adults didn’t get all the rudery but they certainly understood it when Sally and Millie raved about how much they liked Dick! The love interest came from the attraction between Dick’s nephew Robin and the new stall holder Jayden of the Uphill Gardeners on Shooters Hill. Much to the two ‘ladies’ chagrin, Ron Rattail had arranged for Robin to provide a musical interlude at the Market instead of their offering and although initially miffed, they soon appreciated the song – as did the audience. They also appreciated the – real – cakes that were distributed as Millie’s ‘new line’ to try out.


Who can stop the dastardly Dick Day?


Dick discusses Fire Watch with Ron

Soon, the children were besides themselves with even more glee at the water pistols that appeared in the next scene when Dick demonstrated to Ron how to use them to control fires on the Common as part of his taking over the Common Fire Watch. This scene featured a certain amount of buffoonery with both Dick and Ron squirting each other – and of course the audience, old and young. Then the duplicitous Dick sent Ron to the other side of the Common as per his plan for the dragon to pounce on Ron. Cue plenty of ‘behind you’ as the dragon sneaked up on Ron. Surely all was lost?


The dragon is about to pounce!


The evil Dick Day is brought on, ensnared by Sally’s macramé

Well, no. Earlier, Dick had lent his mobile phone to Jayden to film Robin performing at the Community Market before it was returned to him via Robin. It was still in Robin’s possession when a text message came through from Dirty Dee Dudwin. Encouraged by Jayden he read it and learned of Dick’s vile plot. The second text message that came through moments later gave away the one thing that could destroy the dragon. At once, they fled the scene into the woods on their mission of mercy, together with Millie who had wandered onto the scene picking flowers (much to the chagrin of one little nature boy who had earlier informed the steward that he had been looking for crickets) They emerged just in time to see the dragon preparing to swoop on the hapless Ron who had fallen to the ground. While the dragon relished the moment before falling on his prey, Ron called out ‘kick him up the bum!’ – for this was the dragon’s one fatal weakness – and with one well aimed boot up the bottom, the dragon was slain and Jayden had saved the day. The dastardly Dick was then brought on, ensnared in a piece of Sally’s macramé – so it had been useful, after all! This time, the two dames were allowed to lead the cast and audience in their song, the words for which just happened to be printed in the programme. After which, orderly bow and exeunt cast.


Sally gives Millie a different kind of ‘flour’ from the one she was expecting. “They’re balloon flowers. Close your eyes and make a wish” said Sally – “No, on second thought, they’re Poppies!”

Now, in all the excitement at the market over Dick and encouraging the audience to admit how much they liked Dick as well, Millie and Sally had missed out a bit of entertaining nonsense which was supposed to have happened as part of their ongoing rivalry. Luckily, since the audience had enjoyed themselves so much and didn’t want to go straight home, the routine was duly performed by popular demand as a brief vignette and served as an encore, after which all the cast came on and milked the adulation with freestyle bowing and general showing off. Finally, Art Plumstead’s first ever pantomime was over. After dropping off various props and bits of costume, the cast, crew and hardcore supporters adjourned to The Old Mill for a well-earned refreshment or three.

Panto cast 6

For those who didn’t make it on the night and wish they could have seen it, click on these links in turn. It’s sheer hokum!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Painting at Parksfest 2018


Around half a dozen regular watercolourists rocked up for Summerfest 2018 in Rockliffe Gardens and tucked themselves away into nooks and crannies before starting work. The vibe was relaxed and leisurely, with several people chatting to the painters and reminiscing about when they used to make art in their youth.

20180714_143634_Film1Unlike with photographs, people don’t generally object to being painted or sketched and there were plenty of visitors, some of whom have been unknowingly immortalised as patterns of colour on paper while enjoying the series of bands on offer. Meanwhile on the lower level the Canine Capers fun dog competition was followed by an impromptu game of football, providing inspiration to one of the group who tucked herself behind a chair, the better to capture the scene unobserved.

20180714_143704_Film120180714_143808_Film120180714_145153_Film1Also on site were several stalls, including a bar, Grizzlys (located in Plumstead High Street opposite The Plume of Feathers) and a show for children which was well-attended. By close of play, there were quite a few pictures produced, some of which may well be appearing on a stall near you in due course – if you live in SE18 that is.

20180714_145318_Film1 (1)



A Fine-tuned Performance


The penultimate concert in the Plumstead Peculiars concert series became an unexpected informal Art Plumstead meeting, with several members of the group turning up independently to enjoy the Abraxas Ensemble. It was a treat to sit in the cool interior of the Ascension Church away from the heat of the afternoon and enjoy a vibrant medley of familiar classical tunes played with panache and good humour. By the end, everyone felt thoroughly invigorated.

As always, there was tea and cake served by volunteers with a chance to mingle. Donations to the retiring collection are split between the church and the musicians. There is only one concert left in the series featuring Julia Macdonell on horn and Alexander Thomas on harp so if you are interested to find out what is on offer, Sunday July 22nd is your last chance of the summer!




Halloween Free

The evening begins on an ordinary street in Plumstead

The evening begins on an ordinary street in Plumstead

There was no excuse for anyone to stay indoors if they didn’t want to on the warmest Halloween on record. While the players waited in their appointed area in the Nature Reserve in keen anticipation, Jan and John loitered on the pavement, dressed as a masked witch and in a kimono respectively. No-one could have missed them. By the time John had taught four volunteers how to repeat a simple Japanese phrase for use later, the crowd had swelled to just over twenty people. Exhorting them to be mindful of their wellbeing, their journey began.

The stage is set; the battlements

The stage is set; the battlements

The tension mounts

The tension mounts

...Hamlet, King, father, royal Dane...the ghost appears

…Hamlet, King, father, royal Dane…the ghost appears

The audience were led down the first set of steps to ‘The Gates of Hell’ where they encountered an exotic creature in big hat, feather boa and silk wrap. It was Alison who explained how, in times past, the Japanese scoured the country to gather spooky tales. She finished her set with a blood-curdling cackle. The torchlit procession wound its way down through the trees to the acting area, Music, smoke and flaming torches added to the atmosphere. A huge oriental banner set the scene; the battlements where Hamlet encounters the ghost of his father (or does he?), all with a Japanese flavour. Next, accompanied by eerie music, Erik told a mysterious tale of a strange maiden who appeared one day in a bizarre sea-craft.

A mysterious tale unfolds

A mysterious tale unfolds

John then re-entered the arena and gathered his four volunteers. As they repeated their phrases, the three torches were extinguished one by one. When the final phrase was said, the main light was killed to leave the audience in darkness. Then it was re-lit and the audience invited to linger while enjoying sake and authentic Japanese snacks. At last it was time to break the set and adjourn to the Old Mill. Art Plumstead’s Third Halloween had been a success, re-animating a long-stashed collection of Japanese costumes to provide a memorable experience at no cost to the audience.

And soon the darkness

And soon the darkness


“Loved last night. Well done all of u” M D by text

“Dear Eric,dear All,

“What a marvellous experience you made for us – the journey into the unknown dark, alone but together, the touching humanity of small lights, and then arrival into a different world.The music and the trees circled all, like the princess’s boat,& gave such space to really listen to the spare words,as the stillness did for the masterful movement.
I didn’t think you could surpass Beowulf, but perhaps you did.
Thank you.
Till next year, please”
J by email
“It was such a wonderful happening. Thank you Art Plumstead for everything you do for us ! We are so lucky that you put on these performances which are interesting, stimulating and FUN. I loved it and I learnt something new about Japanese culture. The traditional tale of the woman adrift in the boat will stay with me – haunting!” J on Facebook

“Very enjoyable. 有難うございます” D (the Japanese translates as thank you very much -Erik)

“Thanks for a fabulously different Hallowe’en. Arigato gezaimasu!” D


Stroll On!

What could be more evocative of an English Summer?

What could be more evocative of an English Summer?

The Midsummer Stroll was a resounding success, attracting over sixty participants and the occasion of several ‘firsts’ – Andrew made his acting debut in a scene involving several characters (another first) and there was live music provided as part of the event. Everyone joined in, wearing head dresses made from locally sourced greenery and walking round the facsimile Swedish Maypole in the manner of various animals. Refreshments were provided en route.

Erik demonstrates the Swedish Midsummer Maypole

Erik demonstrates the Swedish Midsummer Maypole

After making floral chaplets, the audience were led to the refreshment table. Then Erik told them about the origins of the Swedish Maypole with its characteristic twin wreaths suspended on the cross pole. Alison appeared from the side path as a hiking fairy and recited a verse, before fleeing. When the crowd followed in her footsteps. they encountered the Pyramus and Thisbe scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, before chancing upon John as The Green Man, resplendent in embroidered cape and lime green merkin.

Just another bloke in a wig or two - John as the Green Man

Just another bloke in a wig or two – John as the Green Man

The final leg of the journey took everyone through the margins of the Common to a secluded nook where two young girls demonstrated their skill with the clarinet, before Erik recited a solemn piece about the English countryside…before changing to an upbeat piece of music and inviting anyone who was willing, to parade across the Common, rustling and jingling, to the Old Mill where we congratulated ourselves and celebrated what we had achieved.


An Afternoon on the Tiles

These succulent dates taste as good as they look, and the good news is they're available in a store near you (if you live in SE18 that is)

These succulent dates taste as good as they look, and the good news is they’re available in a store near you (if you live in SE18 that is)

As if a Watercolour Workshop and Community Market weren’t enough excitement for one weekend, the day after our appearance at St Mark’s Hall, Erik hosted a Turkish Coffee Afternoon. He decided to eschew the ‘Carry On’ theme and went instead for a more cultured and informative but nonetheless relaxed programme, accompanied throughout by suitable music and slideshow set up on the TV. The décor helped set the mood.

Turkish Delight is traditionally served with Turkish Coffee, but it would have been churlish to refuse all these as well

Turkish Delight is traditionally served with Turkish Coffee, but it would have been churlish to refuse all these as well

After demonstrating the correct way to brew up Turkish Coffee (it describes how fine the beans are ground rather than a particular bean) in the correct way ie twice in a particular shaped pot or ibrik, and describing how the Turks were encouraged to drink tea rather than coffee after the First World War by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, first president of Turkey, the guests were able to sample the authentic sweetmeats on offer, all sourced locally, and traditionally served with Turkish Coffee. One of the advantages of living where we do is the easy access to a wide variety of food, and there was a full array to enjoy.

Erik shows how to brew a proper cup of coffee - just mind you don't swallow the sludge!

Erik shows how to brew a proper cup of coffee – just mind you don’t swallow the sludge!

To complete the amusement there was an activity set up outside in the garden for the creation of  a tile based on pictures of original Turkish tiles, either by collage or direct colouring. This allowed for easy conversation while engaging in a shared creative activity. All light-hearted fun, as these pictures show.

A crafty moment in the garden

A crafty moment in the garden, with the lingering sun making a welcome guest appearance in the background

Same colours, different designs and a memento of an enjoyable afternoon

Same colours, different designs and a memento of an enjoyable afternoon

Plumstead, not Hampstead!

A good time had by all

A good time had by all

The fifth Plumstead Live! free music festival took place as always on Winn’s Common last weekend Sunday 21st July from 3pm – 8pm. And unlike two years ago, when it was rained off, the weather was perfect, having cooled slightly from the baking conditions of the last few days.

Cristina soaks up the atmos

Cristina soaks up the atmos

The crowd was bigger than ever, with a mixture of ages and ethnicities (not that such box-ticking should be the sole means of evaluating an event successful or not). No one came over all unnecessary, or made a nuisance of themselves. It was an event characterised by peaceful enjoyment of the Jazz and Soul music provided by Arthur Lea’s Bootleg Brass, Emma Devine, Dan Waller and Carol Jack. There was an ice cream van, a pie and mash stall with dining gazebo attached and a wood-smoked pizza stall.

Fire on Winn's Common

Fire on Winn’s Common

On top of all that, Erik went round inviting the audience to take one of our Art Plumstead leaflets (you may have seen him, he was wearing a jaunty headdress made from a mauve paper napkin on his noggin). And to add to the sense of occasion there were a couple of fires on the tinder-dry grass in the near and middle distance. Which is how we knew we were in Plumstead, not Hampstead!