Peace, love and harmony? Those three essential Masonic commodities were apparently not very evident 300 years ago, as was delightfully demonstrated when the St Helens and Prescot peripatetic pageant players brought their excellent production of ‘A Timeline Drama and Pageant’ to Rowley Court, Lancaster at a meeting of the City of Lancaster Lodge No 281.
The historical timeline drama, which traces the earliest days of English Freemasonry, began its story in 1646 with the initiation of Elias Ashmole into the Craft at Warrington and then guided the audience through the turbulent and often contentious issues plaguing Masonry, which were finally resolved by the merger of the two competing grand lodges in 1813.
The list of historical characters portrayed was a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Freemasonry and each character was introduced by the fictitious character of the herald, who undertook the role of narrator, as well as referee on occasions! There was lots of humour interjected throughout and some hilarious ad-libbing, especially when one of the audience was admonished for having not switched off his mobile phone. He was reminded that ‘the infernal device’ wouldn’t be invented ‘til 250 years later!
The performance in the Lancaster Group brought this year’s season to an end and the Masonic thespians will be having a well-earned rest over the summer months before they resume their labours in the new Masonic year. The idea for a ‘Timeline Drama and Pageant’ to celebrate the tercentenary was the ‘brain child’ of Frank Davies who portrays the famous Masonic researcher, William Preston, in the pageant. Speaking after the ‘season finale’, Frank was quick to pay tribute to the team and their supporters, he said: “The success of this has been very much down to the enthusiasm and commitment of not only the performers but also to the many others who contributed to getting this production up and running.”
So far, the group have given 15 performances throughout the Province, to an audience totalling in excess of 1,000, including some 200 ladies as well as a small group of lady Freemasons and notaries such as Lord Derby and Lady Pilkington. They have travelled, at their own expense, over 600 miles and raised to date £2,100 towards the St Helens and Prescot Group MCF 2021 Festival Fund.
The script for the drama, presently runs to 21 pages and calls for nine actors to deliver it. Frank wryly observed that: “The script today is a far cry from those early beginnings because the team members offered their own suggestions for improvement which were then added as necessary.” He continued: “I realised at an early stage that we were entering into ‘theatre land’ and I’m very grateful for the help given by Dave Burgess and Jacob Larch, in guiding and advising us.” He also paid tribute to the wives of the performers for undertaking the unpaid roles of ‘seamstresses’.
At the festive board following the performance at Lancaster, David Grainger APrGM together with local group chairman Jim Wilson, were lavish in their praise and the brethren wholeheartedly agreed that the night had been entertaining, educational and immense fun.
The players will resume their performances in September and if you haven’t had chance to see the drama, book an early seat as this is one wonderful Masonic performance that you certainly won’t want to miss!