Farewell my dear friend
Peter Terson (Patterson) 'Pete' died in the early hours of April 8th aged 89. He had been living with Parkinson's disease for the last few years, stoic and good natured throughout and supported by his wife Shelia, who has been his rock through their 66 year marriage. Shelia had asked me to write an obituary for their local paper The Ross Gazette in Ross on Wye (See below) but I wanted to add some more reflections on his life and my memories of him. i first met Pete in 1985 at a weekend writers retreat in Monkton Wilde, Dorset that I had set up so I could meet writers and enthuse them about the community play genre. Peter Terson, David Cregan, Nick Darke were among them. I have to confess I was daunted by Pete's energy and frankness, he was a heavy cider drinker at the time and would disappear from the conference with Nick and they would come back somewhat paralytic. As a result I was somewhat nervous and it took five years to invite him to write a play for Bradford on Avon "Under the Fish"and Over The Water (1990) . I then collaborated with him in developing two community operas in Southborough "Have you seen this Girl" (1991) and "Twin Oaks" which were also performed in Lambersart and Lille in France with an Anglo French Cast, directed by Mark Dornford May. I then commissioned him for a second large scale promenade play in 1999, "The Sailors Horse" (Minehead and Watchet). Pete was the most diligent in meeting the community' face to face. These plays can take up to two years to develop. Pete not only made flash visits, the more common approach by busy writers committed to other projects at the same time, he would come and live or holiday in the town with Shelia. As a director I never worked harder having to keep up with Peter. In Minehead he wanted to know about Butlins, both as a holiday maker and behind the scenes, so he insisted I organise a week end stay. We followed the day in the life of a Bluecoat, and the holiday maker, We sang Karaoke, joined a quiz team and played crazy golf with a family, He'd given up drink by then thankfully though we sat in the bars in order to meet the punters and drank juices. Peter watched, listened and most particularly picked up the rhythms, accents, turns-of-phrase of local people. He incorporated these experiences and their personal stories into the play..
The play scripts emerged over the weeks, inspired by events of the previous day or some newly discovered research. Odd scenes would arrive in no particular order. Eventually the full script would arrive in the post. Typed on an old Olivetti typewriter with an old ribbon on various lined, plain yellowing paper or opened envelopes pinned and sellotaped together. There were amicable exchanges of ideas to get to a rehearsal draft, I was to learn that Pete didn't consider a script finished till the show was over. He attended many more rehearsals than any writer and sat on the edge, often with a pile of script papers and listen and watch, seldom interfering. One regular thing he did do ,however ,when a community actor came out with a line in his or her own natural framing, because he or she wasn't yet word perfect, Pete would call out something like "that's not it... "that's not what I wrote" followed by "but. it's better, say it like that." He recognised it sat more comfortably with the actors vernacular, and was therefore more truthful..
`I don't believe in the latter years that Peter Terson got the credit he deserved, Age did not weary him nor did his talent diminish. He was undoubtably one of great playwriting talents of his age. In a self written short biography he wrote that the sixties and seventies were his 'glorious days' a period in which he wrote and had produced somewhere in the region of eighty plays for television, radio and the theatre. He went on to say "but I'm not dead yet and just coming up to my peak `~~(confidence and mad optimism is all to the playwright.) that was Peter Terson to the last, until Parkinson disease robbed him of the capacity to write. Peter Terson's plays are social dramas as relevant today as ever they were. It is beholden on the theatre and those who can to resurrect past plays and produce the more recent ones; we still have a lot to learn from him. He should be as honoured as a dramatist equal to Harold Pinter and Arnold Wesker, especially as he never abandoned his working class roots.
THE HERO’ S JOURNEY
1. The Ordinary World
2 Call To Adventure
3. Refusal of the Call
4. Meeting with the Mentor
5. Crossing The Threshold
6. Tests. Allies & Enemies
7. Approach the Innermost Cave
8. The Ordeal
10 The Road Back
12. Return with the Elixir
JOSEPH CAMPBELL’S MONOMYTH
1.Call to Adventure
Disruption and Awakening
Refusal Of The Call
Mentor may appear
2.The First Threshold
Resistance and commitment
Belly Of The Whale
DESCENT, INITIATION PENETRATION
3.Road Of Trials
Challenges and Temptations
Tests and challenges prepare the Hero
Helpers arrive when needed
Meeting With The Goddess
Woman As Temptress
Atonement With The Father
Revelation brings new perspective
Revelation brings Rebirth
Revelation brings birth to the new transformed self
New Attitudes, beliefs and behavior emerges
Final Death and Rebirth
Build New Meaning
7.Return Threshold Challenges to the Return
Refusal of the Return
Rescue from Within
Master Of The Two Worlds
Freedom To Live
Watch the short above or try this other You Tube Link below to a little film with some interesting viewpoints, illustrated throughout by a group of Children.
The Hero's Journey is one that takes us from the Known World, our everyday life into the Unknown world, in our case the world of the Stone People. In this narrative model this is what we know about the The Ordinary World (1) and what is beyond in the Unknown World when we Cross the Threshold (5) :
The Ordinary World- What we Know (1)
Time and Location of our story: Today 2019 Toad Rock, Denny Bottom, Rusthall; possibly also Bulls Hollow or Apsley Street.
The area was once the bottom of a freshwater Lake.
Nigel Stapple believes the area around Toad Rock is a prehistoric ritual site. There has been a cluster of Mesolithic finds. Mesolithic people lived 6000 to 8000 years ago. Springs and water were venerated at that time and Nigel believes the site was so venerated. He believes there is a stone circle directly behind Toad Rock; In 1900 the stone circle existed on maps. The stone circle may well have been a barrow not necessarily for people but possibly for buildings. There is also a passageway behind Toad Rock where there are 2 levels of erosion one possibly caused by bare feet and sandals and the other by modern day harder shoes form the 1800’s onwards. There may also be a semi stone circle below Toad Rock; it’s so large it can only be seen from above. Nigel thinks man may well have helped formed The Toad as it is so different from any other natural rock formations. Rusthall was originally called Hungershall. Medieval quarrying involved splitting stones for stone circles etc. There is no evidence of modern quarrying. Demand for stone started in 1650’s. Qualified archaeologists have overlooked the site. Wellington rocks were heavily quarried in the 1800s so the hotels on Mount Ephraim would have a better view.
- There is lots of evidence that Climate Change is not only happening but that we only have eleven years left to reverse it making it possibly the most urgent crisis the world has yet faced. We need to come together as a people of the blue planet. Yet there are millions of climate change deniers many among our leaders.
- We are divided about our relationship with our neighbours in Europe and are fighting wars of words with them and between ourselves. It is taking all our energies and resources while the planet is moving fast to the cliffs edge. Are we best place to save ourselves with this in fighting, division and separation?
- Children of the local tribe and across the world school children have taken part in 24 hours of climate action. 1 million students are said to have skipped school in more than 2,000 protests across 125 countries to protest government inaction on climate change. The student movement was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, now nominated for a Nobel Prize, who kicked off a global movement after she sat outside Swedish parliament every Friday beginning last August. Many students are expressing anger, fear and disappointment that adults have not acted.
- Local elders in our tribe have formed a volunteer team to keep the rocks clear and to support the Friends of the Common, Conservators, and the Warden of the Commons.
- We continue to take more from the earth than we put back, destroy more than we protect.
- There are young people within our tribe drinking on the rocks, breaking bottles, making noise late into the night and spray-painting graffiti.
The New World -What we know (6)
Stone people are born as stone and over time they become flesh. The stone people have to go to ‘birthing places’ (areas of exposed rock) to find their children. Stone people can be born in rivers and oceans when they will reawaken as water creatures. Sometimes they will be dug out trees that grow out of the rocks. Toad Rock is a sacred ‘birth place’ that was once covered by a fresh water Lake and many years ago the stone people were born as water creatures, fish, newts and frogs, until the lake dried up. The Toad is an ancient God of the stone people and a symbol of their past lives.
Women are obliged to dig for babies, “they’re waiting for us”. Their mothers are destined to find them; they know and recognise their own baby. Families might consult ‘Finders’ who sense where the mother should dig for her child in dousing and birthing ceremonies when the ‘Finders encircle the mother holding long dousing rods they beat ground and do ritual passing of the rods. Children and parents are destined to find each other. When they Stone people die they become stone and return to the earth retaining their knowledge and memory of past lives.
When the woman digs for a child she might accidentally split it so she then has to give it back to the earth where it reforms over several years. Stone people have a time when they must return to the ground, they are reluctant to go back as they remember what they call “the long wait”. They return to earth to absorb the collective knowledge of all the rocks. The earth is therefor imbued with intelligence, knowledge and wisdom far greater than our own
When rocks return or reawaken after the long wait they will have changed form, and come back as sparrows, animals, men or women. Stone people always return older and wiser than in their previous lives, they only age underground. In their final return, as toads, they are the eldest they will ever be. Toads are the highest order because they are returned heroes prepared to sacrifice themselves for the Tribe. They are therefor sacred - a life to be diligently protected. The death of a toad is a warning that life on earth is under threat, that the world is poisoned.
The Stone People live in a different dimension to us, they inhabit the same ground but beneath us. When we bury our dead we place them closer to the dimension the stone people live in. They lie there sleeping and the Stone Women tend them. We are oblivious to the stone people but to them we are dark shadows and our actions are impinging on their world.
When the Quarrymen of our world started removing stone they removed many of the Stone People’s ancestors. The stones the quarrymen took were used for building Tunbridge Wells so many stone ancestors lay trapped in the building.
And then the Toad Stone* was taken. Since which time the no stone person has been reborn and they are fast diminishing in numbers.
Among the recorded Victorian names of rocks is The Bloodstain, known to other sources as the Bleeding Rock. It is generally understood as a spot where dripping water left an iron stain, but no site fitting this description can be pointed out today. It needs to be found. It could mark the place where the stone people’s spiritual leader was split.
Another fact: From ancient times people associated the fossils with jewels that were set inside the heads of toads. The toad has poison glands in its skin, so it was naturally assumed that they carried their own antidote and that this took the form of a magical stone. They were first recorded by Pliny the Elder in the first century.
Could it be one and the same stone?
Many of the leaders followers wear a mallet round their necks in memory of he who took the stone. The Stone Tribe pays annual homage to the Toad Rock on the middle day of they year. He is their greatest hero about whom many stories of bravery are told of his previous lives.
If the bloodstone was returned, perhaps it may reawaken the stone people and if the fleshlings were to revive their long lost ritual of dressing the Toad and talking to the rocks perhaps the stones may share their wisdom, and by listening to the earth we might save it.
We have started learning how the stone people talk to each other
WHO IS OUR HERO?
One of many questions we may want to ask is who are contenders to seek adventure and travel to the world of the Stone people? And for why or for what do they seek? Please discuss. Better still come to our next Devising Session