Halloween, inside the hallowed grounds of Greenside Cemetery, prior to the churchyard
bell tolling 12:00pm, disembodied spirits rise from their graves preparing for
the witching hour when they will possess the living. This, being their only gateway
to a meaningful afterlife.
so, to our tale
Smugglers & Black-Damp
piece, a one-act play, is a contemporary revelation of the history of Alloa through
mediums and spirits from Alloa's Kirkgate. It takes place during a Spook-Spotters
Investigation on Halloween night in the Greenside cemetery.
1) in which Philemon Blair enters, briefly chatting to some of the spirits.
actors involved during this scene.)
Blair: Grave-watcher spirit. Dead 200 years. Always re-appears at Halloween
at the time the spirits try to possess the living.
of Mar: Earl spirit. Embodies all the Earls of Mar. Proud of his achievements
during lifetime. Disappointed on his lot in the graveyard.
Wife: Coalminer's Wife spirit. Life spent working in the mines. Bitter that
little is understood of the realities of life in a miner's family.
Henderson (Sailor): Able-Seaman's spirit. Young. Unlike the coalminer's wife
he's not bitter about the life at sea but is very aware his lot was tough.
SET IS - FROM THE AUDIENCE VIEWPOINT - STAGE SPLIT INTO TWO AREAS. STAGE RIGHT
HAS 4 GRAVES (POSSIBLY CARDBOARD BOXES PAINTED BLACK LIKE HEADSTONES). STAGE LEFT
HAS SOMETHING THAT CAN BE USED AS TABLES AND CHAIRS (POSSIBLY REPRESENTING TREE
STUMPS OR A TOMB'S SLAB LIKE A TABLE?) THE STAGE IS, FOR MOST OF THE TIME IN SHADOW
WITH ACTORS LIT BY SPOTS?
1 (in which Philemon Blair enters, briefly chatting to some of the spirits)
BEGINS WITH PHILEMON ENTERING WITH A BROOM, SWEEPING THE AREA AROUND THE GRAVES.
OCCASIONALLY STOPPING TO HAVE A DRINK FROM A BOTTLE HIDDEN UNDER HIS CLOAK. (This
bottle becomes important at the play's end when it is discovered in a pupil's
pocket - it is dated 1814). AFTER A SHORT TIME HE RESTS, LEANING HIS HANDS
ON THE BROOM. HE TALKS TO THE AUDIENCE. PHILEMON IS THE ONLY SPIRIT THAT CAN TALK
TO THE AUDIENCE.
Autumn - dead leaves covering dead
bodies, and me, a dead grave-watcher left to tidy up. Must be near on 200 year
I've been dead
at least. Anyway, what must you be thinking - me muttering
away? That's the way this job gets you, you become a professional mutterer. Not
much company here you understand? Oh where are my manners? let me introduce myself,
Philemon Blair, gravewatcher for Greenside Cemetery. At your service
a manner of speaking, well I'm a spirit now but one day I was flesh and bone just
a long time ago.
LOOKS ABOUT HIM, TAKES ANOTHER SWIG FROM HIS BOTTLE.
might be thinking, 'At least it keeps him busy,' but, don't you think I'm going
to be busy enough considering what night it is tonight. Oh, I know it's quiet
now, but you just wait, soon enough
RESUMES HIS SWEEPING THEN STOPS AS IF THINKING ABOUT SOMETHING. HE TURNS TO THE
AUDIENCE ONCE MORE.
you probably think Halloween's when the bairns dress up and do a turn for sweeties,
dook for apples and the like. Maybe that's what it's like for you. Nice and cosy,
but not for me. For me, Halloween's when the dead complain. And boy, can they
complain. See it looks quiet here, empty, but in reality it's full
of Alloa's history and some of the people who made the history.
SWEEPS SOME MORE AND HAS A SWIG FROM HIS BOTTLE.
brick-makers, potters, brewers, mill-workers, miners, sailors, coopers, surgeons,
POINTS TO A HEADSTONE ON A GRAVE)
see, you can tell what the people did by the symbols on their gravestones. For
example, the mason would have a mallet, the weaver would have a loom and shuttle,
the farmer would have a plough and so on, but as well as trades and the like there
are families also. Mothers, fathers and bairns
you'll know where the bairns
are buried by the headstones with the hourglasses on their sides
sifting to the heavens all too soon.
UPSET, PHILEMON RESUMES HIS SWEEPING, WIPING HIS EYES.
bring a tear to a glass eye so it would. Another thing, there's legend on one
of the headstones that says
I am now, so ye shall be
Prepare for death, and follow me.
Anyone sitting smugly in the audience would do well to think about that for a
bit. Life's, for living, by the living, let me tell you! Someone once spray-painted
on the headstone
follow you, I'm not content
I do not know which way you went!
a joker these days, eh?
get me wrong, any other night and I'd be glad of the company. In fact
wonder if we've got enough time? You see, everyone who comes to The Greenside
Cemetery looks at the headstones
finds out who's buried
never know who watched over them when the grave-robbers were on the prowl. That's
where I come in, or rather, where I came in. And they never really know the history
behind the names on the gravestones, never really get to find out their story.
if we had more time it'd be easy enough for me to tell you of Alloa's early days.
Tell you about
the barbers for example. They sometimes doubled as surgeons.
On their gantry you would see the combs, scissors, the bleeding bowls and the
open razors. Aye that's right, they performed certain operations, that's why the
barber's pole has red and white stripes - red for the blood and white for the
KIDS ON HE'S A CUSTOMER IN THE BARBERS)
A short back and sides and amputate my leg please, oh and hurry up, I've got
to run and catch a bus!
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