Please don’t ask me what the plot is … the Plough Play reviewed

  • Ever wondered what this Plough Play thing is all about? You’re not the only one. Reviewer David Longford rather enjoyed one of our previous performances at The Woodlark in Lambley. Thanks to him for the following very kind words.

‘The Plough Play is a traditional mumming play that took place on the first Monday after twelfth night (Plough Monday) and was an opportunity for the local plough boys to earn a bit extra by going round to the ‘big’ houses and offering some entertainment. Not only did it provide the lads with some extra pennies during the dark winter period, but it also signals and heralds in the New Year.

The Calverton Real Ale and Plough Play Preservation Society (CRAPPPS) have been perpetuating the tradition, routinely visiting local pubs around Calverton over three consecutive nights and performing this short, daft and entertaining piece.

I enjoyed it enormously. It is unpretentious, basic, pure grassroots theatre. My enjoyment is aided enormously by sitting in the cosy confines of The Woodlark, with a roaring fire and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord on tap.

Please don’t ask me what the plot is. There are several characters, including two recruiting sergeants, Beelzebub, a couple of blokes in drag, one of whom dies and a quack doctor who brings her back to life. There’s a bit of music, song and lots of lovely wordplay and rhyme. Apparently it’s based on the traditional Calverton Plough Play text from way back when, but I’m guessing that the references to Viagra and Brazilians are fairly new additions.

It’s surreal and a bit incomprehensible, but just sit there, sup your pint and go with it. It’s performed with bravado and a complete disregard to theatrical convention or niceties. The bloke who played Beelzebub came in, said his lines and then instantly turned round and ordered himself a drink at the bar. Brilliant!

And yet in watching this quirky little piece you can see how all theatre, whether it’s simple stuff like this or some of the grander pieces, is all inter-connected. Men dressing up as women is not just limited to Panto and mumming can be dated back to Shakespeare’s time. Peter Quince, Bottom and the rest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with their crude and broad delivery are clearly a mummer’s troupe of sorts.

But this really isn’t an evening for criticism or scholarly review. Just enjoy the fun whilst you’re in your local boozer and then give them a couple of quid. All of the money they collect goes to the local NSPCC.

So they do their bit, have a quick beer and then on to the next pub. I stay for another pint (or two), grab my coat and torch and then head off home up a dark Catfoot Lane, feeling distinctly merry. Now that’s a good night out at the theatre.’

Are you a Plough Play 2020 pub?

If you are, huge thanks for opening your doors to us on 9 – 11 January 2020 – your hospitality is very much appreciated. In letting us entertain you, you’re helping to preserve a vital English tradition. Our group has performed a Plough Play every year since 1979, based on a script first written in 1890.

You’re also helping us to raise funds for a great charity – Nottingham NSPCC. To that end, it would be amazing if you could try to get as many people in your pubs to watch us (and donate anything they can afford) as possible.

Every penny you place in our hats and dripping pans goes directly to charity. Every drop of ale we consume on your premises we pay for ourselves.

We’re doing 17 shows at the villages and venues you see here.

If you’re not a Plough Play pub, we very much hope you’ll bear us in mind for next year (and maybe drop us a line).

Thanks again. See you soon!

2020 Calverton Plough Play – FINAL Tour Dates

January 2020’s CRAPPPS Plough Play is on its way with tour dates listed below. Any changes to the schedule will be posted on this webpage, so check here first if you’re planning to come out to see us.

The 2020 tour will see us undertake our 42nd consecutive year of Plough Play performances. The first ever run took place in 1979. Proceeds, as ever, will go to Nottinghamshire NSPCC.

Thursday 9th January 2020

  • Bramley Apple, Southwell – 7:45 pm
  • The Reindeer, Southwell – 8:30 pm
  • The Final Whistle, Southwell – 9:00 pm

Friday 10th January 2020

  • Admiral Rodney, Calverton – 7:15 pm
  • The Green Dragon, Oxton – 7:50 pm
  • The Plough, Farnsfield – 8:20 pm
  • The Lion, Farnsfield – 8:40 pm
  • The Fox and Hounds, Blidworth – 9:15 pm
  • Nag’s Head, Woodborough – 9:50 pm
  • Four Bells, Woodborough – 10:10 pm

Saturday 11th January 2020

  • Robin Hood and Little John, Arnold – 7.20 pm
  • World’s End, Lowdham – 8:00 pm
  • The Railway, Lowdham – 8:30 pm
  • The Ship, Lowdham – 8:50 pm
  • Woodlark, Lambley – 9:25 pm
  • Cross Keys, Epperstone – 10:00 pm
  • Admiral Rodney, Calverton – 10:30 pm

Preservation’s What You Need

  • This ridiculous piece of whimsy was spotted on Calverton village’s premier (only? Ed) fake news website calvoblog. It was penned by our Beelzy, who should folking know better.

A NEW PRESERVATION SOCIETY has been set up in Calverton to preserve preservation societies which may become unable to preserve the things they’re preserving, it’s been revealed.

Two preservation societies have been identified for potential preservation so far.

Norris Thetford, a business continuity expert from Crookdole Lane, is the new Chairman of the Calverton Preservation and History Society and Calverton Real Ale and Plough Play Preservation Society Preservation Society (CPHSCRAPPPSPS).

‘It’s simple, really,’ explains Norris. ‘If a society’s preserving something – and we know it’s preserving something because the word ‘preservation’ is somewhere in the society’s name – then the thing it’s preserving won’t be preserved anymore if the society winds up.

‘So obviously it’s important to preserve the societies that preserve the things, otherwise the things might die out if they’re not preserved, like the history, and the beer.’

If Norris ever has to wind up his society, his son Ben has launched a society to preserve the society which has been set up to preserve preservation societies which may become unable to preserve the things they’re preserving.

So Ben has become Chairman of the newly-formed Calverton Preservation and History Society and Calverton Real Ale and Plough Play Preservation Society Preservation Society Preservation Society (CPHSCRAPPPSPSPS).

At this point, we have to say we lost interest.

Blast From The Past – St George 2019 Remembered

We’ve found some photos, and it was obviously a scorcher that day. Our Beelzebub (also known as Simon most days of the week) remembers not being able to get all the red make-up off his face and then realising it must have been sunburn. Ouch.

We didn’t get around to posting about our 2019 St George’s Play exploits at the time (our sincere bad) so somewhat belatedly announce that everyone appeared to survive.

We can confirm, as ever, that a dragon was repeatedly slain (step forward Master Kenny Quilty in his maiden St George’s run for CRAPPPS) and Phil Wathall somehow managed to crowbar a dress into his costume again, albeit this time in kilt form for his rebooted McSlasher.

Generous punters from the six pubs we visited donated a total of £276.53, with proceeds going to Maggie’s Centre, Nottingham City Hospital.

Maggies provides free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. It’s a brilliant charity which does brilliant work, and long may it continue.

The take from this run of shows, added together with proceeds from the 2019 CRAPPPS Plough Play, makes a rather splendid fundraising total for the year of £1,626.50. Fair play, guvnor.

The CRAPPPSters are back from 9 – 11 January 2020 with the bizarre, incomprehensible cultural phenomenon that is the Calverton Plough Play. More details to follow!

2020 Calverton Plough Play – PROVISIONAL Tour Dates

January 2020’s CRAPPPS Plough Play is on its way with provisional tour dates listed below.

The 2020 tour will see us undertake our 42nd consecutive year of Plough Play performances. The first ever run took place in 1979. Proceeds, as ever, will go to Nottinghamshire NSPCC.

Thursday 9th January 2020

  • Bramley Apple, Southwell – 7:45 pm
  • The Reindeer, Southwell – 8:30 pm
  • The Final Whistle, Southwell – 9:00 pm

Friday 10th January 2020

  • Admiral Rodney, Calverton – 7:15 pm
  • The Green Dragon, Oxton – 7:50 pm
  • The Plough, Farnsfield – 8:20 pm
  • The Lion, Farnsfield – 8:40 pm
  • The Fox and Hounds, Blidworth – 9:15 pm
  • Nag’s Head, Woodborough – 9:50 pm
  • Four Bells, Woodborough – 10:10 pm

Saturday 11th January 2020

  • World’s End, Lowdham – 8:00 pm
  • The Railway, Lowdham – 8:30 pm
  • The Ship, Lowdham – 8:50 pm
  • Woodlark, Lambley – 9:25 pm
  • Cross Keys, Epperstone – 10:00 pm
  • Admiral Rodney, Calverton – 10:30 pm

2019 Calverton St George’s Play – Tour Schedule

We’re really rather chuffed to confirm that we’ll be hitting a number of fine Nottinghamshire hostelries on Saturday 20 April 2019 with the CRAPPPS St George’s Play.

Advertised times are (as ever) only a guide, allowing for leisurely pace of travel between venues proportionate to rate of ale consumption. If you have any difficulties recognising us, you’re already beyond help. For everyone else, we’ll be the colourful gurning shouty people wearing ridiculous costumes at the following boozers of renown:

Saturday 20 April 2019

  • The Ship, Lowdham – 1:00 pm
  • Robin Hood, Lambley – 2:30 pm
  • Woodlark, Lambley – 3:15 pm
  • Nags Head, Woodborough – 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm [*]
  • Four Bells, Woodborough – 5:45 pm or 6:45 pm [*]
  • Admiral Rodney, Calverton – 7:30 pm or 8:30 pm [*]

[*] = start times dependent on bus timetables. We’re on public transport!

Once again we’ll be aiming to raise a significant wodge of cash for charity and this year will be performing in support of Maggie’s Centre, Nottingham City Hospital.

Maggie’s provides free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. It’s a brilliant cause, so please donate generously when the dripping pans come round.

Also, remember to cheer loudly at that dead funny bit where St George stands on the dragon’s cobblers.

See you down the pub!

Plough Play 41 – Completely CRAPPPS-tastic!

Wearing daft costumes and waving dripping pans at pub-goers never grows old. Once again, we’ve raised a record-breaking amount of money for charity.

The 2019 Calverton Plough Play saw the good folk of CRAPPPS raise more than a grand (again) for Nottingham NSPCC, with the final barnstorming total from the collection being a whopping £1,349.97. This means that we’ve raised more than £27k for charity since the very first collection in 1979.

The total includes funds raised from the 17 performance run of the Plough Play on 10 – 12 January and our appearance at Lowdham’s Cider, Perry and Juicing Festival at the end of last year.

As a spectacle (Really? You’ll be calling it an ‘art form’ next – Ed.) the play itself continues to evolve, though the words spoken are still largely faithful to the original Cropwell Bishop script of 1890.

Duelling Dame Janes (pictured) doubling up to harangue Beelzebub may not have been in the programme back in 1890, mind, but they absolutely delighted audiences in 2019, as did a spontaneously reworked 18th birthday party version of the show for one (un) lucky audience member at The Admiral Rodney at the run’s finale on the Saturday night.

Audiences may also have spotted one of the characters undergoing a somewhat historic gender change. A hearty welcome, then, to Hannah Cupitt (daughter of one of the original CRAPPPS founders Michael Cupitt) as one of the Plough Play’s newest acting members, doubling-up with other newbie Kenny Quilty in the role of Threshing Blade.

Thank you to the pubs for continuing to plug us so wonderfully and to customers / audience members / hapless victims / delete as applicable for coming out in force to see us. Your hospitality and generosity are, as ever, very much appreciated.

We’re planning to be back on the road with our St George’s Play in April – watch this space.

Right. Time for a lie down.

The £26k Dripping Pan

Back in March 2015 we revealed that CRAPPPS had raised circa £22k for charity since we took our first collection in 1979.

Nearly four years on, a fresh look at Beelzy’s spreadsheet tells us that total funds raised by CRAPPPS have now exceeded £26k.

This figure includes record-breaking takings of circa £1.5k (above) raised for Nottingham NSPCC from the 2018 Plough Play run and 40th anniversary ceilidh hosted by the brilliant Sheepish Grin (John Crawford and Richard Mecia pictured below) at Calverton Village Hall.

We’re very pleased to announce this updated figure and look forward to entertaining you for many more years to come.

Huge thanks from us, to you, for your continuing support.

2019 Calverton Plough Play – FINAL Tour Dates

January 2019’s CRAPPPS Plough Play is on its way with final tour dates listed below. Any changes to the schedule will be posted on this webpage, so check here first if you’re planning to come out to see us.

The 2019 tour will see us undertake our 41st consecutive year of Plough Play performances. The first ever run took place in 1979. Proceeds, as ever, will go to Nottinghamshire NSPCC.

Thursday 10th January 2019

  • Waggon & Horses, Bleasby – 7:45 pm
  • The Reindeer, Southwell – 8:30 pm
  • The Final Whistle, Southwell – 9:00 pm

Friday 11th January 2019

  • Admiral Rodney, Calverton – 7:15 pm
  • The Green Dragon, Oxton – 7:50 pm
  • The Plough, Farnsfield – 8:20 pm
  • The Lion, Farnsfield – 8:40 pm
  • The Fox and Hounds, Blidworth – 9:15 pm
  • Nag’s Head, Woodborough – 9:50 pm
  • Four Bells, Woodborough – 10:10 pm

Saturday 12th January 2019

  • Gleaners, Calverton – 7:20 pm
  • World’s End, Lowdham – 8:00 pm
  • The Railway, Lowdham – 8:30 pm
  • The Ship, Lowdham – 8:50 pm
  • Woodlark, Lambley – 9:25 pm
  • Cross Keys, Epperstone – 10:00 pm
  • Admiral Rodney, Calverton – 10:30 pm