InNewbury Magazine (Spring/Summer 2017) - page 8

8
IN NEWBURY | SPRING/SUMMER 2017
Carli's masques, with themes of nature and magic,
became an annual summer village tradition until the onset
of the First WorldWar.
It was Boxfordian and historian John Vigor who, in
1997, invited Ade Morris, then the Outreach Director and
resident playwright at theWatermill Theatre, to help him
find the overgrown amphitheatre. John had long cherished
the idea of reviving the masques and Ade readily accepted
the challenge with a view to it becoming a Millennium
celebration. The two spent a day wandering the woods
searching out the woodland stage but to no avail. They were
just about to admit defeat when they happened upon an
enormous beech tree carved with graffiti, which on closer
inspection turned out to have been made by members of
the masque casts who had waited by it for their cues over
80 years previously. And there before them, reclaimed by
nature and almost invisible, lay the amphitheatre, hewn
out of the grassy bank.
The Pocock family, who by then owned the land,
welcomed the project, which at that time was made
Geraldine McCaughrean’s first
venture into a masque was a revival
of Carli Peake’s ‘The Well in the
Wood’ with its spirit of whimsical
fairy magic.
possible through funding from a Millennium grant and
produced by theWatermill Theatre. A committee was
raised, the land was cleared – another lustrous beech tree
serving as the backdrop to the amphitheatre as it had
always done – and local award-winning author Geraldine
McCaughrean was approached to write the script for the
first and, as it proved, all subsequent masques.
The talented Geraldine was already a well-
known children's author and playwright when she won
a worldwide competition – entered on a whim after her
husband spotted it advertised in the national press in
2004 – to write the sequel to
Peter Pan
. ‘I had submitted the
requisite synopsis and sample chapter, and was excited and
terrified in equal measure to be chosen to write the official
sequel to J.M. Barrie's classic story.’
Peter Pan in Scarlet
was commissioned and
authorised by Great Ormond Street Hospital, to whom
Barrie had granted all rights to the character and original
writings in 1929. Geraldine's book continues the story of
Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and the Darling family in the wake
of the First WorldWar, and in 2016 the New Vic Theatre and
Oxford Playhouse collaborated to stage its world premiere.
The book has been published in over 50 languages and
taken Geraldine all over the world on promotional tours.
Geraldine's first venture into a masque was a
revival of Carli Peake's
TheWell in theWood
with its spirit of
IN
|
THE BOXFORD MASQUES
Top right:
Ade and Geraldine
have fun with
some of the
costumes at a
Boxford Masques
exhibition at West
Berkshire Museum
in 2017.
Bottom right:
Edwardian
graffiti on the
beech tree at the
amphitheatre.
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