Alton Handbells and the Stoke Mystery, Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October 2018

Alton Handbells at the B-Arts Centre

Friday night saw the AHR perform with a team from the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester at B-Arts in Stoke-on-Trent. Community theatre, in the round about community life, at its best despite basic facilities; a stark warehouse from the outside - blink and you would miss it in passing. The welcome was warm and friendly, a lingering smell of baking bread and cakes, plus tea/coffee and even a bar.

This was part of “The Mysteries” cycle of 6 short plays performed in the actual town or city written about. Stoke-on-Trent was fifth in the cycle. The others were Eskdale, Staindrop, Whitby, Boston and Manchester, the last being the finale on 4 and 11 November at The Royal Exchange. The caption on the programme “when a place gets big enough to tell itself a story...”.

Part of this story was set in a Bell Tower and required some “change ringing” provided by Alan, Joan, Sonja and Wendy. We were then invited to ring tunes on 12 bells in the interval standing on an elevated platform in one corner of the café. What a pleasure to perform to such an appreciative and enthusiastic audience, including the cast and their backstage team.

A very different experience (and venue - with rugs so appreciatively provided for the audience, no heating!) for AHR but we rose to the challenge. Well done team, so pleased we could contribute to an amazing and dedicated Theatre Group production.

Judith Denning 13.10.18

Photos by Kate Reynolds, Royal Exchange Theatre Touring Producer