Had a minor role in this year’s Samhuinn performance by Beltane, as a torchie again. In a departure from previous years, we spent some time making new costumes, including fibreglass breast-plates which were a considerable amount of work (and mess, and nasty fumes). We also made new cloaks, which meant a large amount of (machine-)stitching. I’m sure the quality of my work would appall the Savoy costumiers, but none of the cloaks fell apart on the night.

Various people have asked for a plot summary, since the performance is pretty impenetrable without some background – personally I think printing a plot summary on the back of the fliers would help significantly, not sure who in the society can make that happening, though.

Anyway, here’s my attempt. Corrections welcome.

The summer king is having his last big party of the year. He’s getting pretty old and tired after a long summer of drinking, carousing and so on. But he’s going to have a great party all the same, with assorted entertainment from jesters (the guys in purple in and yellow), his musicians, dancers and so on. On his way to the party he’s joined by his dear, long-lost brother, the prince of winter.

After the above (summer) groups have done their performances, the red men and white women (from Beltane) get their turn. Like the summer king, they’re supposed to be old, worn out, but still up for one last heavy session. Particularly the red men. (The red men have their own drummers, the Beasties, but they’re all aligned with summer).

At this point things start to go wrong for the summer king – the stage is taken over the by the ice maidens, and then a charge by the wild hunt, who start terrorising the summer groups. The summer king is pretty upset by this, and the winter prince initially reassures him, right before he stabs him in the back, and steals his crown. This is all the cue for the wild hunt to start a full-scale butchery of summer. All of this wintery-ness is accompanied by the winter drummers (aka the processionals), who this year were wearing totally awesome ninja-like costumes.

At this point the winter king is pretty pleased with himself, but finally the Caileach, having sat and watched all of this in silence, intervenes (as mothers tend too), shoves the winter king off to the side (totally ruining his day) and brings the summer king back from the dead. She then sends him away – he’ll be reborn at Beltane in seven months time. So the winter king gets his crown and his day, but firmly under the auspices of mummy – no eternal ice-ages here, spring and summer will return in the future.

Posted Monday, November 3rd, 2008 under culture.

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