This morning, a mock Skimmington Ride took place in South Street, Dorchester, to publicise “Hardy's Night-Chapter and Verse”, an event in March which will raise funds to help save some rare Hardy transcripts that could end up in America.
Skimmington, or Skimmington ride, is a traditional custom comprising a public demonstration of moral disapproval of an individual or individuals. The form of the demonstration, and the reasons for it, varied between different places, but the general intent was public humiliation of the victims. A Skimmington generally took the form of a rowdy parade with effigies of the victims or people dressed up to represent them; in some cases the individuals themselves were forced to participate, often dragged from their homes and forced to ride back to back through the village on a donkey. Skimmingtons were typically noisy affairs, with rough music made by the clattering of pots and pans.
The Players reenacted the scene from their 2009 production of “The Mayor of Casterbridge” where the townsfolk of Casterbridge parade effigies of Michael Henchard and Lucetta Templeman through the streets. The shock is too much for Lucetta and shames Henchard, who leaves Casterbridge an ex-Mayor.
The rare Hardy transcripts were once owned by Harry Tilley - one of the original Hardy Players. The scripts date from 1908 -1924 and include hand annotated play scripts written by Hardy for the Hardy Players plus twelve of his novels and short stories.
Dorset County Museum Director, Dr Jon Murden is raising £58,000 to keep these important documents in the UK and bring them home to Dorchester. (A major American University has expressed strong interest). Substantial sums have already been pledged from generous local and regional sources.
To help the cause, the New Hardy Players are putting on a special fund raising evening to help raise part of the £58.000 needed. “Hardy's Night - Chapter and Verse" takes place on Friday 12th March 2010 at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, starting at 7.30pm.
Tickets cost £12.50 which includes Dorset Apple Cake and apple cider punch provided by The Octagon Café. Tickets can be purchased from the museums reception desk.
During an evening of varied entertainment there will be an auction of valuable Hardy related items that include a book signed by Thomas Hardy himself, and a chance to have “Tea with Norrie”. Norrie Woodhall, 104, is the last surviving original Hardy Player and she will perform Hardy’s work once again during “Hardy’s Night”.
Support the Hardy Transcripts Fund a worthy, local, Dorchester cause
Contact the Dorset County Museum for details and tickets Tel: 01305 262735
For more information about the campaign and event visit www.hardyonline.org