ALL CHANGE AT HEPTONSTALL PACE EGG PLAY!
Good Friday, 29th of March
Weaver’s Square, Heptonstall.
Well, not quite all change. There comes a time in the tide of men when it’s right to take one’s silver star off thine breast, hang it up by the fireside, put one’s clogs by the back door, and have a well earned rest. And so it is for St George, that noblest knight, aka Ray Riches in this year of our Lord 2013.
But what’s this I hear you ask, has the Heptonstall road closure put paid to those Good Friday shenanigans also? Nay, nay, and thrice nay this honorable correspondent replies!
The proceedings, as ever, will be announced via the medium of several sharp knives being deftly wielded by Neil Collins. Crossing over from the dark side, we have Stuart Hought casting off his old character(s!) of Hector, and stepping neatly into the glittering sword and crown of St George.
Jimmy Green will be entrusted, as Bold Slasher, with showing new St George the ropes (as well as a few stars if they haven’t practiced their swordplay enough), although Doctor David Burnop will be on duty with his tried and trusted remedial Nip Nap if anything should go a-wry.
Taking on the bold mantle of Hector is Rowan Carter, last seen on Heptonstall’s cobbles in an identity theft disagreement as Calder High’s Black Prince took against Heptonstall’s Black Prince then, as this year, played by Andy Carter.
His majesty the King Of Egypt Sydney Roper will be making sure new Hector does not miss his cue, and, should anything go terribly wrong, Tosspot Dean Gash will end the proceedings with a jolly good laugh, by which time the audience will have forgotten all that has preceded anyway.
So hold up your hands, get the bus up the hill, and let your quarrels fall, peace and joy, peas and pie, and we’ll see you in Heptonstall!
This year charity collection will be for Parkinson UK for research into Parkinson’s disease.
And our local charity this year is the The Heptonstall Festival workshop fund.
Performance times are as follows in Weaver’s Square:
11.15 am Heptonstall Pace Egg
12.30 pm Heptonstall Pace Egg
2.00 pm Heptonstall Pace Egg
3.00pm Midgley Pace Egg (Calder High Players)
4.00pm Heptonstall Pace Egg
Travelling and transport
Please come by foot or public transport.
Do not come by car - very limited parking. No overflow car parking at Social and Bowling Club as the car park closed for maintenance.
Signs will indicate any available roadside parking outside the village.
We urge all visitors to be extra careful and vigilant of the traffic coming through the village due to the closure of Lee Wood Road.
The volume of traffic in Towngate and Smithwell Lane will be greater than normal and care must be taken when in the main street, especially by Weavers Square entrance and outside the local pubs and shops.
- Compare MC Juggler Neal Colins
- St George Stuart Hought
- Bold Slasher Jimmy Green
- The Doctor David Burnop
- Black Prince Andy Carter
- King of Egypt Sydney Roper
- Hector Rowan Carter
- Toss Pot Dean Gash
History: Originally and traditional adults play this ancient rebirth ceremony had the purpose of celebrating a prosperous season of the rising or growing sun, the season of new birth, “Feast of New Life” in the spring. Linked to the ancient celebration of Eostre the goddess of the earth and fertility and her name being derived from the ancient word for Spring “eastre”. More on this can be found at:
By celebrating that St. George overcomes all his challengers, as he must to prevail, just as the sun must rise in the morning as in earlier religious
belief, it is thought, to celebrate the continuum of the seasons and hope for a good harvest. Similar mumming plays are performed around the country often by morris dancing groups.
The Pace Egg Play is perhaps the world's oldest drama and can be traced back through English and European Mummers' plays to ancient Egypt and Syria. It is a mixture of a pagan rebirth ceremony with the later influences of Christianity and the Crusades. Our performance is a traditional Pennine variant of the play performed at Easter time, which differ from most of the country were they are usually performed around the new year.
The text of the Pace Egg has been passed down orally over the centuries. Over time in the Calder Valley area it had watered down to a later tradition of being performed by the village boys for coppers or eggs at Easter time so as to enable them to afford to go to the fair.
Heptonstall Pace Egg was revived in 1979, for a one off performance, as part of a year of events to celebrating the Centenary Year of Heptonstall School. After that performance Kevin McAspurn (who played Bold Slasher) and I decided it was part of village tradition and we should keep it going.
We would like to thank all the many volunteers that have performed, collected and helped out over the years to make the Pace Egg happen. The play has built a enthusiastic following, with many people coming back year after year. Children dress up as the characters and the audience know the lines as well as we do. The whole day has become a sort of coming together, re-uniting old friends and family from the area. Every year and its play are special to us with their own idiosyncrasies. We hope this year is just as unique.
As a 'combat' version - the most popular variant of this type of mummer's play in the Pennines - it promises to be an action-packed spectacle that shouldn't be missed.