PLOUGH PLAY 2021 – Online Comes I

What’s a mummers group meant to do when the pubs are shut and live shows can’t happen? Easy to skip a year, maybe. Put it down to the pandemic and hope for safer and more sociable times ahead.

But what if you’ve never missed a single year of performing live since 1979 and are desperate to maintain your unbroken record?

Livestream time.

The good (and in most cases hairy) folk of CRAPPPS took to t’interweb on Saturday 16 January for a knees-quaking, history-making live online performance of the Calverton Plough Play.

Audience members from places as far-flung as New Zealand, Denmark and Derby tuned in to watch the chaotic and colourful nonsense unfold and see a fine old Nottinghamshire folk tradition preserved.

‘I’m just glad we pressed all the right buttons,’ said Beelzebub afterwards between hearty gulps of post-gig whiff-whaff.

‘All that tech ‘n’ whatnot. I was proper bricking it.’

At the time of writing, donations to the NSPCC stand at just over £350 with Gift Aid contributions included. Thanks so much to everyone who’s put into the virtual dripping pan so far.

There’s still time to donate through our JustGiving page here.

And if you missed it first time round, you can watch the show on YouTube here.

Unbroken run maintained. We’ll see you all again soon – somehow, somewhen, somewhere.

And stay safe, y’hear?

  • Cast members. Top row left to right – Simon Carter as Beelzebub, Hannah Cupitt as Threshing Blade, Jay Reilly as the Farmer’s Man, James Byrne as Hopper Joe. Middle row left to right – Richard Martin as the Recruiting Sergeant, Peter Millington (fiddler), Nick Bereznyckyj as the Doctor, Jon Wood as Bold Tom. Bottom row left to right – Phil Wathall as the Ribboner, Eddie Wathall as Dame Jane, Paul Howard as the Lady Bright and Gay.

PLOUGH PLAY LIVESTREAM – Saturday 16 January 2021!

The Calverton Plough Play, a time-honoured and much-revered tradition commonly performed around East Midlands hostelries in early January, will be performed live on t’interweb via a YouTube livestream – coo!

The pubs are shut (due to a pandemic or summat) so instead, our colourful (and in many cases very hairy) performers will be huddled around webcams on Saturday 16 January for a one-night only live performance at 8.30 pm. You can join the fun live using the link below.

Note: if you miss the livestream, the video will remain on YouTube for posterior (surely ‘posterity’? Ed.) if you want to see it later.

Blast From The Past – St George 2020 Remembered

This wasn’t how it was meant to be.

The cast of performers may change from year from year. The costumes may get a makeover (or even a wash) sometimes. But, when all is said and done, these are the variables. You can manage the variables.

But the one constant thing a mummers play relies on is the pub. That’s where the action happens. That’s where the punters gather. That’s where traditions live, where traditions breathe. Don’t breathe too heavily in some pubs. They don’t half pong.

But when the pub is shut because of a global pandemic, then what?

With local boozers having to close their doors due to COVID-19, the good people and true of CRAPPPS Nottinghamshire took to the internet to perform their 2020 St George’s Play back in April. Cast members recorded their lines and music from the comfort (?) of their own homes and doorsteps with James Byrne and Simon Carter frantically gluing together all of the pieces afterwards.

The result is one of the oddest short films you’ll probably ever see, but worth every second of effort for the £200 made for this year’s chosen charity, Arnold Food Bank.

At the time of writing, several months later in December 2020, it’s uncertain whether we’ll be able to return to live performance anytime soon. Plans for our annual Plough Play have had to be put on hold as COVID restrictions continue – but we’re determined to do something to make sure that our unbroken run of more than four decades continues. Details to follow …

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!