Saturday, April 01, 2017

question mark at bristol cathedral…

This morning, I went along to Bristol cathedral to see/hear Stefan Smart perform/recite St Mark’s Gospel. I hadn’t heard anything about this until my good friend Stuart (from our old days in Thame) sent me a facebook message.
Who’s Stefan Smart? Well, sadly, I’d never heard of him before Stuart contacted me… he’s a Christian, but he’s also an English teacher who works alongside Stuart (a Language teacher).
Stefan performed in the cathedral Nave in front of a good-sized audience (and to the amazement of some of the ‘usual’ cathedral visitors as they shuffled down the side aisles!).
It was a stunningly good morning.

I know St Mark’s Gospel pretty well, but I found the experience completely captivating… almost mesmerising (it lasted just over 90 minutes). The cathedral acoustics were perfect for Stefan’s rich tones and I found his ‘performance’ perfectly pitched – very well dramatised, but not over-acted (as I slightly feared!) and with imaginative, simple use of the single ‘prop’ (a set of steps) and the space available. A really impressive, stimulating and thought-provoking performance.
A pretty amazing feat and a wonderfully effective and appropriate prologue to Holy Week. So pleased I went!
PS: Although Stuart had sent me a message letting me know that Stefan was happy for me to take photographs of the performance, the cathedral has a large notice forbidding people to take photographs within the cathedral… at any time (which I think is absolutely barmy). In the circumstances, I didn’t want to cause any disruption, so decided to leave my camera in my bag. However, I did do a few VERY rapid scribbled sketchbook doodles (not really looking at the paper at all) – so, I’m afraid, that’s the best I can offer (see above)!!
PPS: On my way home, I was reflecting on Stefan Smart’s incredible achievement of memorising the entire Gospel of St Mark… and then remembered being in a nativity play at St Mary’s church, Thame (I had ‘volunteered’ to play one of the Kings and Stuart’s wife, Mary, somewhat predictably played the part of Mary)… I had six lines to learn (or was it four? I can’t remember!). My moment duly came and I began: “Oh Mary”… this was followed by one of the longest dramatic pauses in the entire history of nativity plays (possibly more than 30 seconds?) as I desperately tried to remember what came next…
Oh, how we laughed (eventually)! Needless to say, Stefan didn’t have ANY such moments. Oh the irony!

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