The Tale of the Cotswold Lion
A Farce

Authors: Members of the Golden Stag Players
Performed at: Twelfth Night, January 6 AS XXXV (2001)

Synopsis:
Queen Elizabeth, being unmarried, and therefore highly prized as a possible consort for other royalty (the union of any nation with England would have created a huge amount of power for the other nation), many ambassadors were sent to court Elizabeth for their masters.

In the meantime, the wool industry was having issues about exporting wool, and such. The folk of the Cotswolds felt that they were being treated poorly in that the folk in York had the wool export charter, but the Cotswolds were the ones producing the wool. There weren't seeing as much money as they should.

Queen Elizabeth, in a flash of inspiration (provided by one of her court ladies) sends the three ambassadors currently courting her off on a quest to hunt the Cotswold Lion. The one who succeeds will of course have a better chance of winning her favor.

However, not being stupid, she wants the ambassadors to all fail, and sends the Earl of Leicester to ensure this. Not being sure she can trust Leicester, she also sends her court ladies to ensure all goes as planned.

Things get really interesting from there. Read the script for more ...

Performance:
This year saw the first appearance of The Golden Stag Jugglers -- members of the troupe who have been juggling for a bit -- as a warmup act. Nothing particularly funny about it, but we felt it would help get the audience in the right frame of mind, and juggling can be a lot of fun.

The prologue this year was basically me (Hirsch) coming along and stating that in the ten years we had been performing I had seldom been on stage entertaining the audience, so I borrowed some juggling balls, immediately dropped all three in an attempt to juggle them, got a big round of applause from the audience, and then said "Cope", picked up the balls and walked off stage.

The play itself went well, despite little details such as one of the platforms used to make up the stage trying to collapse (while we started the play, maintenance was under the platform fixing it -- cute, eh?), some costume problems that got resolved before we went on, and so on.

Of note:

Had lots of good comments after, everyone seemed to enjoy it, and we were happy.

Incidents:
Script-writing: was more difficult than usual. This is the first time most of us (except Anne with Pilgrimage and Aldith with Peermalion) had really sat down and written a full-blown script with little to work from. We had a small amount of outline from Aldith, and that was it. The first act was ... rough. The second act wasn't too bad. The Friday night before the last writing session, Juan and Rose came to Hirsch and Aldith's, and we did a re-write of the first act based on some of what happened in the second, and a need to make the first act flow better. It worked ... a few of the others were slightly miffed that they weren't included, but it was sort of a last-minute decision. The script did turn out better, although there were some fun jokes in the first act that got tossed out. Sorry ...

Rehearsals were a bit more scarce than usual, due to the fact that the holidays this year fell on weekends. This made things a bit rough. We also started a bit later in the season than usual, as we were still writing the script. However, the members of the GSP are all dedicated folk, and despite the smaller number of rehearsals, came through like champions.

Add to the mix the fact that four (!) of the players were made peers during this time (Margrethe was made a Pelican at Mists Investiture in November, Juan, Rose, and Teresa were made Laurels at 12th Night), and all the emotional fun that goes along with that, and it's been a heckuva ride!

 Photos:

A friend of Teresa's was there and took some pretty good photos of the play. These are at: Photos of The Cotswold Lion (on the West Kingdom History website)

 Videos: Videos are available online (as well as the DVD below...):

  DVD: Available, contact Hirsch for details (probably $5-10, just to cover the cost of the discs, the case, etc. and any postage would need to be tacked on).

 The Script:
The script is based on some ideas that Mistress Aldith had. We had gotten from Tatiana Nikolaevna Tumanova, a good friend of Aldith and Hirsch, a bunch of Russian Proverbs and sayings that she had compiled in the years she's been studying Russian literature. These were fodder for the Russian Ambassador's character (he speaks mostly in proverbs) -- actually, we decided to have a Russian Ambassador because we had the proverbs. We then took those ideas, the proverbs, and ran with them, and revamped, wrote the script and re-wrote, and ... (and typical of the Golden Stag Players, the script we finished back in September is not exactly the one performed at 12th Night -- the one here should be, or at least very close).

The Program
The program didn't have a lot of humourous entries this time, although the "Field Guide to the Golden Stag Players" was pretty fun.

The Golden Stag Jugglers are
Juan Santiago, Michael of Worcester,
Seamus Padraig O’Baiogheallain Mì-nàrach,
Ilia Filia Symeon, Fionnbharr O’Cathain,
Charles “Bonefinder” Ravenstone, Iricus le Ferur, Anne of Ockham

The Cast:

PrologueHirsch von Henford
Queen Elizabeth IRose de Le Mans
The Earl of LeicesterWulfric of Creigull
Katherine AshleyAnne of Ockham
Elizabeth KnollysTeresa le Marchant
Geraldine, Countess of KildareMargrethe Astrid Ravn
Rustilov Gregorov Dimitrevich,
Grand Duke of Chernobyl
Juan Santiago
Don Ricardo Martín de Cordoba
Ambassador from Spain
Iricus le Ferur
Jean Luc Canard,
le Comte de Sancerre
Kæll of the Broken Tower
HeraldMichael of Worcester
The HostRobyn MacLaren
Eleven-fingered JackCharles "Bonefinder" Ravenstone
Nine-fingered SteveEoin of Fell Hold
Wat of the Cotswolds (Assorted Townsperson)Fionnbharr O’Cathain
Placard LadiesAldith Angharad St. George
Original Nightshade

Support:

DirectorHirsch von Henford
Script AuthorsThe Cast
Russian Proverbs Researched byTatiana Nikolaevna Tumanova
ProducersRose de Le Mans
Juan Santiago
Hirsch von Henford
Aldith Angharad St. George
Stage ManagerMichael of Worcester
Stage HandsIlia Filia Symeon, Solveig Ivarsdottir, Ariel nic Eoin
Set Design and ConstructionBent Nail Productions
(Seamus Padraig O'Baiogheallain Mì-nàrach
Juan Santiago, Eoin of Fell Hold,
Iricus le Ferur, Ilia Filia Symeon, Solveig Ivarsdottir, Alleyne of the Singe)
PropertiesThe Cast
CostumesThe Cast
Rose de Le Mans, Aldith Angharad St. George
Donata Ivanovna Basistova
MasksThe Cast
Costume DesignsRose de Le Mans
Aldith Angharad St. George
Camera OperatorSeamus Padraig O’Baiogheallain Mì-nàrach
Understudies for Eleven-fingered JackThe Cast

Field Guide to the Golden Stag Players Goldenius Stagorium Actorii

This guide is provided to assist you in determining which of the Golden Stag Players is which. If it works, we’ll be surprised.

Aldith Angharad St. George (Larellium-Pelicanus Scribius Domine) – has ink-colored forelimbs; in fact, is often black from head to lower limbs. The “aldith” is a chatty creature and may engage anything within earshot with its witty banter. More delicate observers should beware of the edges of its razor-sharp tongue.

Anne of Ockham (Servatorium CatFightius GrapeJellium Juggilito) – A somewhat reclusive creature, it is generally only seen for short periods of time once each year in the company of actors. The “anne” is known to haunt stages and art supply houses and although generally friendly, is known to engage in mock fights for entertainment purposes.

Charles “Bonefinder” Ravenstone (Pratfallius Scriptorium Forgettii Juggilito) – Known for its habit of spending long periods of time concentrating on a single task only to forget what it was doing when in the middle of something important, the “charles”, commonly called a “bonefinder”, has a strange sense of humor which appears at exceedingly odd times.

Eoin of Fell Hold (Tooluseium Stagesetium Constructus) – A handy creature, the “eoin’s” greatest joy appears to involve creating environmental changes by building various edifices and objects in conjunction with other creatures, most notably the “seamus” and the “juan” (see below). To further this end it has been known to produce surprising amounts of implements, which it then uses to great effect.

Fionnbharr O'Cathain (SeaMonkeyius Stagehandium Changjobium tu Actorii Juggilito) – Known familiarly as the “fionn,” this self-effacing creature displays a remarkable ability for mimicry, even going so far as to use the discarded plumage of other creatures to alter its appearance.

Hirsch von Henford (Larellium-Pelicanus Directorius Faultii) – distinguished by a thinning top crest and ornate throat plumage. The “hirsch’s” legs are usually colorful, but on Sunday mornings may appear denim-colored. The “hirsch’s” cry of “cope” often gets ignored by the rest of the flock.

Ilia Filia Symeon (Stagehandium Juggilito) – The “ilia” is a recently discovered species. It has probably been around for a long time but due to its extremely shy and retiring nature it has managed to go mostly undetected until recently discovered by the “iricus”. Since then it has shown a definite ability for the ritual aerial pattern display created by other creatures of the “juggilito” strain. Further study is indicated.

Iricus le Ferur (LeFluerium Automobilius Reparii Juggilito) – This remarkable creature may share some common background with the “seamus” (see below), in that it seems to be very chameleon like as well, starting with the outward brutish appearance. It is a remarkably clever tool user with a definite affinity for vehicles. The major difference between the “iricus” and the “seamus” is that while the “seamus” is a reluctant artist, the “iricus” seems to enjoy its artistic associations.

Juan Santiago (Neo-Laurellium Conjorium Actorii Juggilito Flamethrowium) – A broody southern European beast, the “juan” is known to be a tool-user, but is rarely actually caught in the act. It seems capable of moving twigs, rocks, and card-sized pieces of bark from paw to paw with nigh-magical ease. On occasion it will display its tool using capabilities by throwing multiple objects in the air in pattern displays similar to the “michael” (see below). It also seems to be fascinated by the consumption and exhalation of fire.

Kæll of the Broken Tower (Advocatium Hey-Babyius) – A close relative of the “nightshade” family (see below), this non-toxic specimen is often found near hot springs, or engaged in scholarly pursuits. The “kæll” is of a generally mild disposition, and is of even milder disposition if rubbed the right way.

Margrethe Astrid Ravn (Neo-Pelicanus Bardium Retiredus ExConstabularus) – Graceful and delicate, this flower-like but very sturdy species is able to support itself quite nicely, and can transplant itself when it feels ready to do so. It is able to dance and sing with an ability that startles observers who mistake it for a juvenile, although it is clearly an adult, if examined more closely.

Michael of Worcester (ExConstabulus JobChangium tu Actorii Stagehandium Juggilito) – though seldom seen, this creature is very busy and hard to see in daily life. The “michael” will often give itself away by throwing things into the air in various patterns as some ritual display – the purpose of this display is not yet clear.

Original Nightshade (Veterinarius Thwipium Testiculii) – This unusual creature, familiarly known as the “nightshade”, is remarkable for its habit of performing ... uhhh ... “repairs” on those smaller beasts which come within its reach, using sharp implements designed for just that purpose. When not “fixing” things, the “nightshade” is a very social creature, and can often be found exhorting those around it to disguise themselves and gather in its native habitat.

Robyn MacLaren (Giganticus GroanCausium Faultii) – A creature with an unusual sense of humor, the “robyn” is capable of eliciting large groans from various species in it’s immediate vicinity simply by the use of it’s voice. These sounds can even be dangerous, therefore the “robyn” should always be approached with caution. Unless properly trained, consider it’s sense of humor dangerous.

Rose de Le Mans (Neo-Laurellium Colorium AquaRosa Urinius) – This creature is known to have actually spent time manually re-coloring its own plumage, making it sometimes difficult to recognize. This trait is a result of this species’ desire to remain mostly anonymous, but backfires spectacularly. It is also known that in the process of this re-coloring, amazing odors are produced which repel the males of virtually any other species, yet somehow manage to attract the attention of the females of other species who gather around and make supportive “ooh ah” type sounds.

Seamus Padraig O’Baiogheallain Mì-nàrach (Squirius Pantalonium Repeatii Juggilito) – This shy, retiring creature seems to be related to the chameleon. Although it appears to be a brutish animal with a tendency towards physical combat, when called upon it can change into a tool user and very clever builder. It also has been seen dancing on occasion, proving it’s artistic capabilities.

Solveig Ivarsdottir (Stagehandium Patientia) – [solveig – Old Norse meaning “solution to your theatrical support problems.”] Another recent discovery (re: “ilia” above), the “solveig” is a competent and useful creature whose skills are amplified, rather than diminished, by its ability to pay attention to cues and to ignore actors.

Teresa le Marchant (Neo-Larellium Scribius Actorii [formerus Westermarkius]) – A chameleon-like creature, the “teresa” was commonly believed to belong to the genus Westermarkius, but, in light of a deeper investigation of its activities and habitat, has recently been reclassified as noted. Known for a strong mothering instinct, the “teresa” also engages in frequent wordplay and loooong story-telling.

Wulfric of Creigull (Larellium Pantus Falldownium) – easily tracked by its habit of marking its territory with flour. It generally constructs its den from dried sourdough chips, a material colloquially known as “Plaster of Creigull”.

~ Pedicentur quos non placet ludus ~

The back of the program contained this:

Historical Information (for those so interested):

Queen Elizabeth I, The Earl of Leicester, Katherine Ashley, Elizabeth Knollys, Geraldine, Countess of Kildare were all real people (there is some speculation about Geraldine’s name/identity). The ambassadors are based on the fact that ambassadors from the heads of state of countries all across Europe were sent to plead the suits of their masters – i.e., to try to convince Elizabeth to marry one of them – it didn’t work. The relationship between Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Leicester is fairly well documented – she led him on, he was infatuated with her, but nothing ever happened. The rest are made-up. Any resemblance to anyone real or otherwise is purely coincidental. Any resemblance to real events is really a coincidence.

The Fable of the Cotswold Lion is based on references (cited below, as well as others) found in literature of the middle ages regarding a “Cotswold Lion” – the lion is actually a sheep or ram, which is the joke. To be as “fierce as a Cotswold Lion” is to be sheepish, which is why it is used as an insult ...

The Oxford English Dictionary cites the following under “Cotswold”:

1327 Petit. ibid. II. 182/1 Unze Sakes & Sys cloves de le meliour Leyn de Coteswold a l'oeps nostre dit Seignour.]
1537 Thersites in Hazl. Dodsley I. 400 Now have at the lions on Cots'old.
1548 Halle Chron. 196 Liberte for certayn cottesolde shepe to be transported vnto the countre of Spayne.
1553 Udall Royster D. (Arb.) 70 Then will he looke as fierce as a Cotssold lyon.
1593 Shakes. Rich. II, ii. iii. 9. 1598 -- Merry W. i. i. 92 How do's your fallow Greyhound, Sir, I heard say he was out-run on Cotsall.

The “jingle” used in the first act by the citizens of the Cotswolds is from The Wars of the Roses, by Elizabeth Hallam, page 202. The original couplet (possibly Chaucer?) reads:

“Alle naciouns afferme up to the full
In al the world ther is no bettir wolle.”

And finally, we had this little gem ...:

Hints for the Hintless

The Cotswold Lion is a sheep. Soylent Green is people. Rosebud is a sled.
The chick in The Crying Game is a guy. The boat sank, get over it!

Reviews

Well, why not ...? If people are gonna say nice things about us, who are we to deny 'em? Here we go:


From Mistress Anastacia Grindstead of Raven Oak:
"Oh what a play it was! I still have chuckles bubbling in occasionally, like when I picked up the broom today and trying to count my fingers in just the right way will be an 'in joke' for a long time.

"Thank you to all the Players.

"If you missed it, demand a re-play as soon as possible!" -- Auntie


From Malachais von Morgenstern:
"For my part, I enjoyed the play immensely (although I unfortunately ended up missing the first act - herald stuff). The folks around me seemed to enjoy it as well. In fact, for a while there, I was certain that Aelf (who was sitting in front of me) was going to wet himself, he was laughing so hard. The bits that involved the audience were great, and fit right in. I would like to thank the Golden Stag players for putting on such a smashing show, and Their Majesties for allowing it to be scheduled at a time when a big chunk of the populace could enjoy it. I encourage future Royals to allow for such a scheduling - the populace seemed to like it, and I *know* the players would rather do the play at a time when more people could enjoy their art." -- Malachias


Misc. Stuff

I can tell you the play is not based on this, although once Fionn found this cover, we nearly choked:

I was given, as a Twelfth Night present by Eoin and Teresa, an actual copy of this ... novel. Just reading the front-page which has an extract of some part of the book was ... difficult. Yipe!

In addition, Fionn found this, although the rest of the information that this came from is not available. It turns out that parts of England have some really spiffy websites. There was a Cheese Tasting tour being held in the Cotswolds, and a tourbus company was taking folk from London to the Cotswolds (Stow-on-the-Wold), with the logo below ...