Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween at Tredegar

Halloween. How quickly it comes round.

We are preparing for the final, and, inevitably, busiest night of the Halloween festivities. For those of you who haven't been to this event: Tredegar House, essentially, is transformed into something of a 'ghost train'. You wander through the House and prepare to be frightened.

Some are good at frightening people. I am not. Being slight of stature, short on height, and rather mild mannered by nature, I am not the most intimidating of figures. I would not elicit much of a response jumping out at people, no matter how terrifying my costume might be. Consequently, you will never find me at Tredegar House at Halloween lurking in cupboards, or charging at guests shrieking profusely. Laughter not screams would fill the air.

I am usually to be found in the 'sketches' that are set up (it is very kind of those in charge to put me in these). This is far more my scene. It also gives me a chance to ham it up dreadfully. And I do mean dreadfully. My accents are a wonder to behold. I am thinking of setting up a competition whereby members of the public try to guess what accent I am supposed to be doing at any given time. I doubt many would get the continent right, never mind the nation. Still, it is all in good fun, and nothing is taken seriously.

My Halloween participation over the years has included:

The Witchfinder General, A Vicar at a Vampire Wedding, Dr Van Helsing in a 'How To Stake A Vampire' routine (I think this was my favourite. It was written by Goff Morgan, whose brand of silliness suits me perfectly), Dennis Samosa a fake Scouse psychic medium, and Dr Jekyll (twice).

This year I am back in the Receiving Cellar playing the role of Dr Boris, an archetypal Central European 'mad scientist'. The idea is a very simple one. I rant for a bit and then my 'pets' are introduced to the audience, with predictable results. All good fun. There is a little bit of audience interaction. My accent is supposed to be German, but, despite my best efforts, it goes on the Grand Tour at regular intervals (it takes in Dutch, Italian, Russian, a bit of Welsh, and even has traits of Indian and Chinese, for a truly exotic flavour). At one point I ask the audience if they have any pets. Last night I asked a lady this question in my usual over-the-top Germanish accent, only to find her replying, to my great chagrin, in German!

Halloween at Tredegar House is nothing if not unpredictable.

I would be very interested in any feedback from people who have attended the event. Stuck as I am in the cellar, I never actually see the whole thing myself. I can always pass on your messages and suggestions to the powers-that-be.

Tonight should be extremely busy. I hope there are no easily offended Germans in the House. Not that they could guess my accent in any case......

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gwyneth (Tredegar House Back on TV)

The above image of the Hon. Gwyneth Morgan peering over her memorial stone at St Basil's Church in Bassaleg was sent to me by Monty Dart (photo taken by Tom Dart).

Gwyneth's sad fate will be featured on the BBC 2 Wales TV Programme 'Look Up Your Genes' to be aired on November 8th. It should be an interesting programme. It was the first time I have ever really been interviewed in a lot of depth about Evan and Gwyneth. It was only in the middle of rattling on that I realised just how MUCH material we have on this era at Tredegar House. I am sure most of it will end up on the cutting room floor, so to speak, but the finished programme should give people a fascinating glimpse into two of Tredegar's most colourful, and perhaps misunderstood, characters.

Goff Morgan will also be on the programme discussing Aleister Crowley's relationship with Evan. Goff delves into the darker side of things while I, being far more innocent, attempt to maintain the moral high ground!

Gwyneth's memorial DOES look a little sorry for itself at the moment. Happily, this should be rectified soon. Restoration of the Morgan graves is on the agenda and we should see work progressing before March 2007.