PATIENCE 2016 RESOURCES
See what’s in store. A letter from the director
How time flies – it seems such a short while ago that we were in the midst of ‘Pirates’ in 2015 and now here we are, about to start another season and a new show.
The bravery of the Company in asking me back to direct for a second time must be saluted (with all the military skill and precision of a Dragoon Guard) – for my part, I am delighted, excited and looking forward to all that is to come.
‘Patience’ is less frequently seen than some other G&S works and St David’s Players have not performed the operetta since 1992; hence many people do not know the show – self included until I listened repeatedly to the CD in October. I now love it – Sullivan’s music for this clever and humorous libretto is delightful and one of the great joys of the production for me is the chance to work with the very talented Mary Pickard as Musical Director. The group’s well-earned reputation for excellent singing and playing is in very capable hands and rehearsals will start with sessions to learn the music.
Some of you have asked about the style of this production; there will be plenty of information as we go through rehearsals, but the introductory notes that follow will give you an initial idea of what is in store.
The text is a satirical look at the æsthetic Movement of the latter part of the 19th century; a movement which championed pure beauty and ‘art for art’s sake’ rather than producing social, moral or political comment. There is a brief synopsis of the story on the website and a full outline with links to the songs will be available at the first rehearsal.
The show will be set in period and visually will make use of the Pre-Raphaelite style beloved of the æsthetics, as well as the appearance of military uniforms and Victorian day dress. The stage set is a part ruined folly in the grounds of a castle – think slightly crumbling brick work, arches and balustrades with greenery and the ‘house’ in the background. The 1:15 scale model of the set and pictures of the costume designs will be ‘on display’ at the first rehearsal.
I have already mentioned that we shall, as always, work to present high quality music, but given my belief that audiences also need lots to look at if they buy tickets for a show rather than a concert, you probably won’t be surprised by any of the following comments.
I shall be going for every bit of humour I can find, there are several cameo moments to be worked in and there will be lots of movement. There will be things for everyone to do and a need for all to move safely on stage – and indeed backstage – but I shall not expect everyone to be able to execute complex dance moves and military drill actions – there will be different elements for different groups and all will be rehearsed in detail (and there might even be lots of emails with summaries of the moves – I hear your groans already!)
Ladies – contrary to the anxieties of some in advance, you will certainly not be ‘drooping maidens’ throughout, and part of the humour of the story is that all the women of the village – whatever ‘age, shape or size’, seem to have fallen into the rapture of love for Bunthorne – local poet and castle owner.
If I say that I need all the men I can get, there is a danger that this could be misinterpreted, however, I have kept the statement in because we do need
a plentiful supply of Dragoon Guards – and again, as for the ladies
- all ages etc.
In addition, there is a whole range of jobs that need to be done back stage and front of house, in advance of the show and during the production week – so we shall be looking for teams of willing hands to help with all of that.
This will be such fun; so I hope that you will want to be involved in the production in some way or another. Do get in touch if you have any questions, comments or suggestions and I really look forward to being with you on 19th April.
With very best wishes
We are delighted to announce our principal cast for Patience 2016.
Colonel Calverley — Gareth Davies
Major Murgatroyd — Pete Francis
Lieutenant the Duke of Dunstable — Mark Hurford
Reginald Bunthorne — Tim Hunt
Archibald Grosvenor — Adrian Fox
Mr. Bunthorne’s Solicitor — Stephen Tregale
The Lady Angela — Toni Bishop
The Lady Saphir — Emma Mills
The Lady Ella — Sheena Galpin
The Lady Jane — Carolyn Harries
Patience — Nicola Wilkes
Director — SUSAN GUNN-JOHNSON
Musical Director — MARY PICKARD
Read a detailed Synopsis
The ladies of the village close to Castle Bunthorne have all fallen into a rapture of love for the æsthetic poet and castle owner – Reginald Bunthorne (addicted to being loved and admired, and apparently the truest example of an æsthetic). (‘Twenty lovesick maidens we’). Led by Angela (very often the matriarch of the group who believes that love must be completely unselfish), Saphir (absolutely serious about her devotion to the new style of life – most of the time)and Ella (who has leapt heart and soul into æstheticism and who would probably also leap off a cliff if she thought that this would further their new cause) the ladies all discuss the fact that they are rivals in terms of their agonising love but that they are also bound together in suffering because he appears ‘icy insensible’ to their affections. The Lady Jane (utterly devoted to Reginald and a commanding figure in the neighbourhood) enters and adds to their gloomy mood by informing them that Bunthorne’s devotion is directed towards Patience (the innocent, straightforward but not unintelligent local milkmaid)
Whereupon, Patience herself enters and expresses her amazement at this thing called love which seems to leave them all so miserable. (‘I can not tell what this love may be’) She then drops two verbal bombshells telling the ladies that she has never loved and also that the 35th Dragoon Guards, to whom they all became engaged a year previously, are currently stationed in the village and are about to appear. However, the ladies , with hearts turned elsewhere, depart to sing ‘morning carols’ to their new love.
As predicted, the Guards duly appear – efficiently drilled by Major Murgatroyd (right hand man to the Colonel and engaged to Saphir) (‘The soldiers of our Queen’) and stand to attention for the arrival of Colonel Calverley (a serious career guard, his only distractions being his fiancée Angela and the occasional tipple – to salute the regiment of course). He describes the Dragoons as the product of the melting together of all the remarkable people in history with any dross removed. (‘If you want a receipt for that popular mystery’)
The most recent addition to their august band is the Duke of Dunstable (the titled gentleman looking for his niche in society) claiming to be weary of the deference he receives and hoping to experience something different in the ‘rough and tumble’ of military camaraderie.
Re-enter the ladies, now with Bunthorne in tow (‘In a doleful train’) generating amazement from the Guards because their sweethearts have not rushed up to them in excitement. The Colonel demands an explanation for this rejection, to be told that the ladies have become ‘idealised’ and are now devoted to the poet Bunthorne who takes this as a cue to treat them all to a reading of one of his poems. Patience declares it all to be nonsense and the ladies declare the Dragoon uniforms to be in need of improvement to match their own new found dress sense, thus prompting the Colonel’s defence of their military attire (‘When I first put this uniform on’) and the Guards’ indignant departure.
Once all have left, Bunthorne quickly checks that he is alone and confesses that he is ‘an æsthetic sham’ – that his posturing is the result of a desire to be admired. (‘Am I alone and unobserved? If you’re anxious for to shine’)
It is Patience who breaks into his solo musings declaring her dislike of poetry. Bunthorne confides his secret to her and declares his love, which she wholeheartedly rejects. She is then left alone and confesses her lack of understanding of this thing called love. But help is at hand in the shape of Lady Angela, who explains the refining nature of pure love and asks if Patience is sure that she has never loved anyone. The affection for her Great Aunt is rejected, but her attachment to a little boy with whom she played many years ago allows Angela to depart reassured (‘Long years ago’)
Ashamed that her lack of loving seems to be so appalling, Patience determines to go off and fall in love at once – almost colliding with Archibald Grosvenor (also a poet who clearly admires himself as ‘God’s gift to women’ – probably his idea rather than God’s!). (‘Prithee, pretty maiden’) He is (of course) the little boy with whom Patience used to play and all seems set for a happy romance – for they do indeed still love each other – when Patience realises with horror that as true love has to be unselfish and he is so perfect, her love for him could not be untainted – hence they sadly separate. (‘Though to marry you…’)
Re-enter Bunthorne and his adoring female entourage (‘Let the merry cymbals sound’), an entrance followed immediately by the arrival of the indignant Guards. (‘Now tell us we pray you’) Heartbroken by Patience’s rejection and advised by his solicitor, Bunthorne puts himself up for raffle. Although briefly distracted by a plea from the Guards led by the Duke (‘Your maiden hearts…’) the ladies, including Jane, go ahead and buy their raffle tickets. At the moment of the draw, Patience suddenly bursts on to the scene and declares that she will ,after all, accept Bunthorne’s proposal – not because she has actually changed her affections but because of her belief that love has to be unselfish.
Helpfully, the Dragoon Guards have not marched off in indignation and the ladies all drift back to their fiancés (‘I hear the soft note of the echoing voice’) – that is until Grosvenor appears and the ladies fall back into their trance- like adoration for a poet: exeunt Grosvenor pursued by them, the Guards in high dudgeon, Patience heartbroken that others love her childhood sweetheart and Bunthorne indignant about the competition.
The ladies have clearly fallen under a new spell, (‘On such eyes as maidens cherish’) but Jane appears and is still devoted to her Reginald – though she expresses concern that he needs to reciprocate her feelings before her charms have over-ripened and tip into decay (‘Sad is that woman’s lot.’ ’ Silvered is the raven hair’). All of the other ladies are completely transfixed by Grosvenor (‘Turn, O turn in this direction’) and follow him around until he agrees to read them some of his poetry. Worn out by their constant adoration and wanting a day off, Grosvenor explains through the fable of the magnet and the churn that his heart is given to another. (‘A magnet hung in a hardware shop’)
When (immediately) he encounters Patience again, we see that the desire to hold to the ideal of unselfish love is proving difficult and Patience is left weeping.
Reappear Bunthorne with his entourage reduced to one – The Lady Jane, and they too discuss the problems of unselfish love. When Bunthorne challenges Patience by saying that he does not think she knows what love is, she admits that although there was a time when (happily!) she did not – she has now learned the pain of that state (‘Love is a plaintive song’) and again she exits… weeping.
Bunthorne admits to Jane that he is angry at the appearance of a rival, but, supported by her, he determines to defend his territory. (‘So go to him and say to him’)
Once the coast is completely clear, three strangely clad gentlemen appear… the Colonel and the Major are obviously prepared to do anything to win back their sweethearts and, supported by the Duke, they attempt to imitate the æsthetic style they saw in their rival Bunthorne. (‘It’s clear that medieval art’) Though they have not got the poses quite right, Angela and Saphir are won over by the effort they have made, but they realise that with the Duke now one of the Guards, that gives three men and two ladies and hence – the matter of pairing off will be complicated (‘If Saphir I choose to marry’).
Eventually – as was bound to happen – Bunthorne and Grosvenor meet, the former expressing his anger that his rival has taken the attention of the ladies and the latter expressing his grievance that his perfect looks always ‘get in the way’. Bunthorne suggests the changes that could alter both their fortunes and they sing together in delight at the solution. (‘When I go out of door’).
Patience thus encounters a new and light-hearted Bunthorne and is very briefly delighted until she realises that the change would make Bunthorne ‘perfect’ and thus her love could not be unselfish.
With amazing speed, Grosvenor reappears together with the ladies now out of their medieval style draperies because he has persuaded them to discard their æstheticism. (‘I’m a Waterloo House young man’)
Not surprisingly (with a finale close at hand) the Dragoon Guards also reappear. Patience is shocked by the change in Archibald until she realises that his fall from perfection means that she can now love him.
All is not lost for Bunthorne, for Jane has, as she stated at the opening of the Act, remained faithful to her Reginald.
So all seems set for a happy pairing off until the Duke enters having determined to select a bride for himself. The ladies are briefly sidetracked until he says that the fairest thing to do is to marry the one among them ‘who is distinctly plain’ and he calls Jane to his side. Clearly the acquisition of a title is too good an opportunity for Jane to turn down , which leaves all happily with a partner… except Bunthorne – who has to resign himself to be ‘contented with a tulip or lily’. (‘After much debate internal’)
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