After welcoming members new and old to the October meeting of Retford Ladies Probus Club, president Dawn Cragg introduced speaker, Father Tim Williams to regale members with his rather intriguing topic, ‘Panto to Pulpit’. Having had a love of pantomime from a very early age he went on to play the dame and produce many amateur productions. He described the dame as “obviously a man playing a woman exaggerating what ladies do”.
Along the way he was ordained and would go to professional productions wearing his dog collar but then he noticed that the dog collar was having an effect on the players, so started leaving it off. We were still in the era when the attitude towards clergy was one of caution. He was privileged to meet one of the greatest pantomime dames, Jack Tripp who appeared in many seaside shows and revues. Tim also spent some time working in Uganda, where interestingly their coffins have windows. He met a man they called Lazarus who had ‘died’ and been prepared for burial. Then someone noticed him tapping on the window. He lived 15 years after that so these things can happen!
He took up a post in the Gower Peninsula, where he continued to put on both musicals and pantomimes. Drama also found its way into his church, firstly in the form of a real donkey on Palm Sunday. This was a success and someone suggested they could have a real camel for Epiphany, as a circus was coming to town. The camel was duly hired and came every year. Then someone thought a panto camel would complete the scene. The real camel took a fancy to it and began a chase. One can only imagine the chaos which ensued!
Tim is now about to embark on rehearsals for ‘Our House’, based on the group Madness. He finished his talk with a few old mother-in-law chestnuts, eg “I’d like to toast my mother-in-law but she won’t fit under the grill”. Tim wanted members to see that the clergy are human and like having fun just as much as anyone else.
Retford Ladies Probus Club meet on the second Wednesday of the month at Westfield Community Centre Ordsall, at 10.00am for 10.30am. All are welcome.