150th Anniversary Commemorative Play - Dr Fraser's Dream

The Play
Last year a resident of the St Pancras Almshouses, who had been in one of my local history plays, stopped me in the street to ask if I would write a play for their 150th anniversary.  Coincidentally, the Trustees asked me to contribute to the historical exhibition.Initial research revealed a rich dramatic soup including the court case against the railway, the dispute with the builder Timpson and the truly dreadful lottery for residents (a practice that would be outlawed by the end of the 1860’s).  My chief aims were to bring alive the names on plaques at the almshouses, to highlight the connection with the Victorian philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts and to give some voice to the early residents.  All the names used are based on historical records, though the characterisation is naturally drawn from my imagination.  My co-writer Martin Bould helped me with the final edit.  There is more scope for a play about the life of the early residents from their own point of view and I hope that another playwright will take up this theme.
Domestic Theatre
‘Dr Fraser’s Dream’ has been written and performed in the manner of Domestic Theatre.  Domestic Theatre was founded in 1989 by Beth Shaw and is ‘theatre in the comfort of your own home with friends, family and neighbours’.  There are no auditions, no learning of lines and no rehearsals.  Somebody throws a party, the host or hostess invites the guests to volunteer for parts in the play.  Scripts, costumes and props are distributed and the people step forward to read their lines, falling in love, having adventures, fighting battles, whatever their particular part requires.  At first I adapted traditional English mummers’ plays which are all in rhyming couplets.  Then we thought ‘This is easy, we’ll write our own’ and since 1990 Martin Bould and I have written more than 20 verse plays together.  Rhyming couplets are easy for non-professionals to speak but (as there are no rehearsals) we have to write them in a way that they are instantly comprehensible to both speaker and audience.  We hope to start publishing our plays next year.
Beth Shaw

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The rights of Beth Shaw and Martin Bould to be identified as the authors of ‘Dr Fraser’s Dream’ have been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act of 1988.  All rights reserved.  This play may only be reproduced with the attribution of Beth Shaw and Martin Bould as the authors and only with their specific permission if it is reproduced or performed for any financial gain.