A letter from the artistic director John Bailey
It is the end of September, 2020 and the town of Axbridge should have been basking in reflective glory from another riotously successful Pageant, carried out in a cavalcade of colour and collective exuberance over the blessed three, sunny, dry days which marked the August Bank Holiday.
All the hard work and attention to detail done, the exhilaration of performance spent, leaving, as it has in the past, a recognisable sense of well being which will have kept us warm through the long winter months. A job well done, the costumes and props carefully packed away and leaving lingering memories for another ten years.
It wasn’t to be of course and the Bank Holiday weekend saw the Square empty of Stands and packed audiences, empty without it’s hundreds of performers and the place was all the poorer for it’s absence.
As we all know only too clearly the whole thing was taken out of our hands and was replaced with the increasingly grim world which is Covid 19, our ‘new normal’, to coin a horrible phrase.
We had great hopes back in March that by postponing the Pageant of 2020 we would be clear of this thing by the winter and we would then be able to resume work in earnest in readiness for 2021. Work we would be starting now, on all fronts, with groups of people working closely together on costumes, props, construction, fund raising, rehearsing, planning ; marching on to bring it back to life for the new summer ahead.
However, ‘this thing’ has not gone away and as we move toward winter the country has been, once again, thrown into chaos and uncertainty. We are subject to the ‘Rule of 6’, threatened further lockdowns, Christmas has been put on hold or cancelled and the grim, ubiquitous mask is an obligatory, vital, part of our wardrobe and lives.
It will come as no surprise then that we have taken the sad but inevitable and sensible decision to postpone the Pageant from 2021 as, quite simply, it cannot and will not happen in a forbidding climate which is set to with us for the foreseeable future.
However, we are determined that this unique event, destined to be written in the history books, will not be beaten out of sight. We know that the Community of Axbridge value it highly and that a huge amount of hard work, goodwill and love has already gone into it.
Therefore, we formally announce that we are not in the business of defeat. We aim, instead, to re-route the Axbridge Pageant to August Bank Holiday 2022 when we sincerely hope that we will once again have the time to prepare carefully and safely, the freedom to perform collectively as a town and to be able to see the Square full to the brim with expectant crowds for what is a joyous and memorable event.
We need to continue to live the dream. We all hope that it is a realistic dream.
More details to follow soon – in particular for people who have volunteered to take part and for those who wish to be involved in 2022.
For more news, features and photos on the pageant visit http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/axbridge/axbridge-pageant-2020/ and http://axbridgepageant.com/index.html
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