The Blue Stots
This play was introduced to the team by members Stuart Rankin and Chas Marshall following extensive research which has been well documented in their excellent publication Return of the Blue Stots, published by Dockside Studios, Rotherhithe in 2003.
It was always a dream of the team to perform a local play and this was it! We had taken the longer plays round a limited number of local friendly pubs, usually at Christmas and Easter, but audience attitudes were changing it was becoming more and more difficult to keep their attention. This play fulfilled therefore a number of needs it was the local play we were looking for, it was relatively short (four and a half minutes on average) and it allowed us to get the tradition over to a lot more people in one evening.
We first performed the play at a little Folk Club run by team member, Graham Bickerdike, in the Prince of Wales, Starbeck on Sunday, 9th December, 1979 and then on the following night at Horsforth Further Education Workshop. We then took it on the road at the appropriate time, Saturday, 5th January, 1980, on a short tour of Marton-cum-Grafton, the location of the text on which we had based our version of the play. The tour was arranged by the villagers which took in a small housing estate, the village hall and some private houses where we met a descendant of one of the team that last performed the play. A bizarre performance in one of the local farmers barns illustrated the power of ritual drama when we started the play and all the bullocks at the end of the yard started mounting each other!! We finished up at the local pubs in Grafton and Marton where we were eyed with some suspicion!
The following year we performed the Blue Stots on our Harrogate tour as well as establishing the Marton tour in pubs in and around the Minskip/Aldborough/Marton area. Gradually over the next two years, the Blue Stots play became the mainstay for the Knaresborough tour at Christmas and also was extended into other areas, Nidderdale and further east to the Stillington and Easingwold area in the Vale of York where evidence survives of this particular style of play. This has continued to the present day five tours between mid-December and 12th Night: Harrogate, Knaresborough, Easingwold area, Nidderdale and Marton, performing in 35 to 40 traditional pubs, usually the same ones each year depending on the constant changes in the pub trade!
The Mummers were taken leaving their natural habitat, in this case the wonderful Scottish & Newcastle pub preserved at Beamish Museum on Buskers Day, Sunday, 10th August, 1986. Little Wit: Vince Doemling, Lady: John Hutt, King George: David Dearlove, Doctor Brown: Stuart Rankin, King Slasher: John Burrell, Beelezebub: Graham Bickerdike and Music: Bob Atkins
Trying to persuade local Lib Dem MP Phil Willis to join the gang! Edwardian day Sunday 5th December, 2004 with Little Wit: Ted Dodsworth, Music: Chas Marshall, Beelzebub: >Mike Johnson, Lady: Keith Worden, Doctor: Martin Ord, King George: Dave Williams, King Slasher: John Burrell.
Edwardian day Sunday 5th December, 2004 with King Slasher: John Burrell, King George (slain): Dave Williams, Lady: Keith Worden, Little Wit: Ted Dodsworth, with Doctor: Martin Ord and Music: Chas Marshall emulating the road sign and Father Christmas doing some last minute shopping!
This play was taken to Bebra in West Germany to a festival with Knaresboroughs Twin Town and performed on Saturday, 29th September in the German language, much to the delight of the locals who gave it rapturous applause! The play has been taken to several countries abroad either officially or unofficially!! Citizens of Canada, Norway, Eire and Sri Lanka have seen versions of the Blue Stots as it can be hastily adapted to performances by one person, two person or whoever is available! It was also performed on the move in every coach on a Round Table train from Harrogate to London Kings Cross!!
Tickets please!! Somewhere on the East Coast Main Line!
Beelzebub: Ian Hazell, Little Wit: Doug Child, Lady: Martin Ord on Saturday 3rd December, 1988
Finally, there must be a mention of the Blue Stockings wives and girlfriends of the team presented their version of the Blue Stots at a Christmas party at the Folk Club at the Borough Bailiff, Knaresborough in 1985
King George: Sue Atkin, attacked by King Slasher: Margaret Burrell watched by Little Wit: Annelies Petruszczak and Musician: Heather Hazell.