Friday, 29 November 2013
Strawberry Fields Forever
Strawberry Fields Forever is a play about the small things and the important things, about taking your chances, not missing the moment.
As the title suggests, the play, written by Bobby Stevenson, has a strong link to the Beatles. The story is based around a chance encounter with John Lennon in the 1960s and his death in New York some twenty years later. As you might expect, it's a story about living and dying, but more importantly, it's about people in a small village who grow and learn to see the value in keeping promises and making others happy. Built on the idea that 'everything matters' there is something inherently right about the very first performance taking place in Shoreham, not just because Bobby lives in the village, but because Shoreham itself is a place where things matter.
As I watched my fellow cast members getting into costume, looking at their lines for a final time, and pacing up and down waiting for their cues, I thought about how important the Shoreham Village Players have become to me, since the very first time Philip and I encountered them at a Cabaret night in March 2007. As we sat backstage last night, chatting about old performances and players, catching up on family stories, sharing memories and hopes for the future, I remembered once again how the village takes people into its heart, and holds them there. And that was never more obvious than last night.
On a first night, no matter how hard you've rehearsed, there's always a worry that it won't go well and a recognition that some things won't go entirely to plan. The nerves back-stage were palpable, but out front, the hall was filling with family, friends and village residents, all willing to come out on a cold Thursday night in November, all willing the play to be a success. And while there may have been a line or two that went missing, and a few props that didn't quite make it onto stage, none of that mattered as I listened to the audience laughing and falling silent in all the right places and heard them cheering at the curtain call.
Last night I remembered once again that the people of Shoreham know all about the small things and the important things, and my thanks go to Bobby Stevenson, Sheila Webb, and all the cast and crew of Strawberry Fields Forever, for giving me another chance to experience that.