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December 20, 2010

The Chiddingfold Tipteerers Reality Show!
Monday 27th December 2010

12•30 Swan
1•30 Crown
3•30 Winterton

timings are subject to theatrical interpretation!

Having found an old script and account of a traditional 'Tipteerers' play, that was performed in Chiddingfold circa 1860, a few chaps got together in 2003 to resurrect the tradition. We have been seen each year since then!

We ham it up a bit, (well a lot!). We don't take ourselves seriously, (who could?), but we do ensure that everyone has a good time!

Last year the weather was good; fine and sunny in fact, as it always has been for our appearances; but we decided to perform indoors at the pubs anyway, it's so much more cosy! This was to cause a problem as the crowds were so packed that there was a true danger of some of the 'play' swordfighting causing some audience injury! Plenty of people come to see us, and many others get an unexpected bonus to accompany their lunch! It was at the request of the clientele that the play was performed within the bar, shunning the available area outside. This indoor performance is only possible after some hasty rearranging of furniture, done to the cries of "Make room! Make room!" from the players! Those of the cast whose task it is to introduce the play, and to "cause room to be made for the fray", had their work cut out.

A very colourful troupe sets forth in procession to the Swan for their first rendition at 1230.
After an energetic performance followed by a rousing sing-along, and a hearty chorus of 'The twelve Days of Christmas', (audience participation compulsory!), the procession will make for the Crown.

This performance may seem much like it's forerunner at The Swan, but there will be subtle differences to look out for!

A procession then to the Winterton, (quite a step!), accompanied by cheerful music.
(Passing traffic is much amused by this collection of colourful players!)
Last year at The Wint. we had to squeeze in through the door to get inside at all! We've never seen the place so busy!

It was good to see that so many people came, not only to see the play, but to support the new licensee, Matt.

The finest performance of all was given at this venue, with the players by now suitably lubricated to allow the 'ad-libs' and audience participation to enhance the scripted lines!

It's good to continue this tradition, and it's good fun to do so. The players all thought it was our most 'polished' performance yet, (it seems we might have remembered most of the lines!), and all of us enjoyed the obvious enthusiasm with which we were received.

This year will see The Swan P.H. as a venue once again, under the management of the new owners Stuart and Annemarie. Come and follow the play through the pubs - it gets better as the day goes on!

Thanks go to all the venues for their tolerance and hospitality, and to the audiences for their applause! The Chiddingfold Bonfire Fund benefs from the collections; to the amount of almost £300! usually! Thank you for your generosity.

'Q':- "Just what is this all about?"
'A':- Also known as 'Mumming', Tipteering might be the original form of Pantomime (from the Greek: pan, the whole or all; and mimos, referring to a theatrical style or technique) and perhaps even the origin of what we know as modern theatre. Much of it's origins seem to be pagan, involving the themes of death and resurrection around the winter solstice, but as few scripts or accounts have survived in written form this may be largely supposition. The play was performed in the past by the agricultural and other workers of the area who, in times of winter hardship, found that performing 'street theatre' was a welcome source of a little income! They also took the play around the large houses and performed for the 'gentry'. The significance of the array of characters in a Tipteerer's play seems lost to modern audiences, but has elements of a symbolic history of the British culture. Disguised, according to tradition with blackened faces, the 'guisers', or players take the parts of King George, a Turkish Knight, Beelzebub, the Doctor, and especially Old Father Christmas, plus the Bold Captain, Little Billy Wittle and of course Slasher, the gallant soldier! Needless to say, Good King George wins the day against the infidel, who is killed, but brought back to life by the marvellous Doctor!

All participants dress in what costume can be brought to hand; 'rags and tatters', and with their blackened faces, (to avoid recognition!), they 'fight' with wooden swords; and conclude by consuming beer whilst taking a collection!

Not to worry if you missed us - we'll be there next Xmas,

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