poster2.gif - 20Kb This site is a record, in text and pictures, of the Glastonbury production in 2005 of Bethlehem, a musical version of the 14th-century Coventry Mystery play composed by Rutland Boughton and first performed in 1915.

It was the first production anywhere in many years of a moving work that deserves to be staged more often. A review in The Independent called it “breathtakingly beautiful”.

A recital of English songs, including seldom-heard works by Boughton, followed later in 2005.

UPDATE on March 3, Thursday:

Roderic Dunnett of The Independent has kindly sent us a copy of the original text of his review, as sent to the newspaper. As you will see, the editors did not make drastic cuts.

UPDATE on February 25:

Recordings of the production have been delivered to those who ordered them, in three formats (CD, VHS videotape and DVD). Because of copyright agreements, they are not available to the general public but only to people who took part in the production.

UPDATE on February 3, Thursday:

Rutland Boughton’s Trumpet Concerto is being broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday (Feb 8) at 2pm. This broadcast is a forerunner of the commercial recording due to be released this year.

E2.jpg - 6Kb A few more photos taken by John Gould at the dress rehearsal have been added to the album page of this website.

About 25 people turned up to see the Bethlehem video on Saturday evening. Everyone enjoyed seeing the production from the angle of the audience, after having seen mostly the back of the actors’ heads during performances. And of course, thanks to long lenses and close-ups, video gives a better view than many of the audience had. The crew used multiple cameras during the Saturday performance to give an edited result that approaches TV quality.
   They need another few days to duplicate copies to distribute to everyone who ordered them; you can still put your name on the list. The price is £10 for the audio CD, £15 for the VHS videotape and £18 for the DVD. The soundtrack is the same in all three.

UPDATE on Jan 28, Saturday:

A review appeared on the back page of yesterday's Church Times, written by the same Roderic Dunnett who wrote for The Independent on January 12.

UPDATE on Jan 26, Wednesday:

Copies of the video and CD of our Bethlehem production will be available on Saturday. The CD will cost 10 and the VHS videotape 15; there is also to be a DVD version. (Due to copyright agreements these are only for people who took part in the production, not for the general public.)

Tony Nott is looking for singers, especially men, for a peripatetic series of four concerts by Street Musical Theatre Society. It’s in May so naturally it’s a programme of “love and courtship” songs from Gilbert & Sullivan, Ivor Novello, Noël Coward, Guys & Dolls, Miss Saigon and Showboat. Contact Tony by email or ring him: (01934) 74 2954. Practices are on Wednesdays at the renovated Street parish church, opposite Strode Theatre.

UPDATE on Jan 25, Tuesday:

Do you have contact with any of the people for whom we have no email address? Click here to see the list. It would be good to be sure they know about:

The showing of the video this Saturday, Jan 29, 7:30pm, in the St John’s Centre. Bring along a bottle; we can have another post-production party. (St John’s Centre, housing the Bay Tree Café, is a separate building just under the tower of the church. The building will be open from 7pm.)

UPDATE on Jan 22, Saturday:

Bethlehem-01.JPG - 1507 bytesMore photos! Kay Wych had a go with her new digital camera during the dress rehearsal.

UPDATE on Jan 20, Thurs:

The Central Somerset Gazette today has three separate items about our production, plus a letter from Brian Boughton.
   And The Times today has two or three letters in reply to last week’s leader calling for more performances of British composers — but still no mention of Rutland Boughton.

UPDATE on Jan 18:

Oops. Photos are now properly online after a hiccup (I inadvertently exceeded my storage quota on the server; sorted out now). More are on the way, so check again in a day or so.
   John Gould is willing to supply prints of his photos (numbered A1 to D3). These would be on high-grade paper, about A4 size, mounted and ready for framing, at around £6-£8. If you would like one, contact him direct by email or phone (83 2853).

UPDATE on Jan 15:

A1.jpg - 2031
bytes PICTURES! Three dozen photos by John Gould of the Mid-Somerset Camera Club are now online, plus another half-dozen by Ros Murphy.
If anyone else has comments or photos to add, please ring Jim Nagel (address at bottom).

A leader in Friday’s Times thirsts for more productions of English opera composers, but overlooks Rutland Boughton.

I forgot to mention that, besides his photos, David Parsons’ web diary for January 6-9 also includes contemporary comments he dug up about the infamous Bethlehem performance during the General Strike in 1926.

UPDATE on Jan 14:

A fine review appeared in today’s Fosseway Magazine, plus a photo of the unveiling of the historical plaque on the Assembly Rooms.

UPDATE on Jan 12:

Some published remarks about our production:

Please let me know (address at bottom) of any other comments so that we can add them here.
Also please let me know of any photos that were taken, and we’ll post them here too.

The VIDEO of the performance is to be shown on Saturday 29 at 7:30pm for all involved in the production.

UPDATE on Jan 9:

Both performances were nearly sold out -- all the seats in the nave were taken on Friday; on Saturday, most of the side aisles, even though pillars prevented a full view of the stage, were taken too.

For some photos, and day-by-day comments, see David Parsons’ weblog.

Some links

• Press release that went out in November-December
• The Rutland Boughton Music Trust

Avalon Music — registered charity number 1064280 — contact Paul Branson, (01458) 83 2026

website by Jim Nagel, Abbey Press Glastonbury, (01458) 83 3603 or 0797 415 3861