Wednesday 26 September 2012

Special Jack the Ripper NODA Evening

PBGS is holding a NODA evening for our performance of Jack the Ripper on Thursday, 11th October 2012 at 7.15pm for a 7.45pm performance.

All members of societies affiliated to Noda are welcome to join us at the concession ticket price of £11 and will receive a free programme and a complimentary drink. To book your tickets for the Noda night, please call the PBGS box office on 07946 264886 (please do not book through the theatre).

As well as a great night out, this is a wonderful opportunity for members thinking of doing the show or looking for something that has terrific scope for principals and chorus!


Wednesday 19 September 2012

Christmas Meal

 Fun and frivolity at the 2011 PBGS Meal

Yes! Seriously! Where did the summer go?

The PBGS Christmas meal has already been arranged and will be at The Raven in Hexton on Tuesday 18th December 2012, 7.15pm for a meal at 7.45pm. The 3 course meal + coffee looks really yummy with plenty of choice and costs £23 per head. Paula would like to have it booked by the end of this month so please get in touch with her or catch her at rehearsals to book your place and pay your £10 deposit or, better still, the full amount. Partners very welcome, of course!

Clicky clicky here for a PDF of the full menu and all the details.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

'What a life'

We’re continuing the build-up to our Show, Jack the Ripper by Ron Pember and Denis de Marne, with a look at the lives of the people who lived in Whitechapel, brought vividly to life through music, drama, tragedy and the wry comedy that binds people together through the worst of circumstances.

By the time of the Ripper murders, Whitechapel had become a place of poverty, unemployment, overcrowding and vice of every kind. Nearly 80,000 people were crowded into dismal living conditions, caused by rising rents and the tearing down of unsanitary buildings under the 1875 Artisans and Labourers Dwelling Act. The new buildings meant to replace them were too expensive for people to move back into and the common lodging house became the only thing between most people and the streets. Overcrowded and filthy, many social reformers of the time believed the lodging houses were rife with vice and prostitution, adding to the 63 East End brothels.

Unemployment was high, with an influx of European immigrants fleeing persecution adding to the tension. Most of those lucky enough to be in employment worked 18 hour days in overcrowded sweat shops for minimal wages. Many Whitechapel residents escaped from their grim living conditions, poverty and the grind of sweated labour by spending most of their spare time in the numerous public houses, where drunkenness was rife, leading to more disease and unemployment. Worst of all it led to violence which was so commonplace and accepted in the East End, especially against women, that the journalist George Sims commented before the Ripper murders in 1883 that "the spirit of murder hovers over this spot, for life is held of little account."

For many women, the only way to make a living was through prostitution. Out of the five known ripper victims, three were known to have been previously married, but had been abandoned by or left their husbands. The 1881 census tells us that Elizabeth Stride was married to a carpenter and had moved to London from Sweden, where she had previously worked as a prostitute. By the time of the Ripper murders she was a widow. Catherine Eddowes had a husband and two children at the time of the census and was working as a charwoman, but fell into prostitution to pay the rent on her Spitalfields lodging house. Annie Chapman was married to a stud groom and living near Windsor at the time of the census, but after a series of tragedies, including the death of their 12 year old daughter, they turned to drink. After separating, Annie returned to London and the streets. There is no census information on Nichols, but we know she was born in Limerick, lived in Cardiff and worked in a brothel after arriving in London in 1884. There is no census information on Chapman either but The Star newspaper reported after her horrific murder in 1888 that she “had perhaps a happy and innocent girlhood, and was once a wife, had to turn out and seek the sale of her body for the price of a bed."

The police turned a blind eye to prostitution in the East End where it was rife but rarely came to the attention of the respectable. For the most part the women were left to their trade - prostitution wasn’t a crime and the police could only arrest a prostitute if they create a public disturbance.

It was in this hotbed of poverty, vice, slum conditions and little regard for life that Jack the Ripper carried out his murders, the horror of which finally shed a light on the lives of the people of Whitechapel.

You can join us in the Music Hall and on the streets of Whitechapel by booking your tickets for Jack the Ripper on-line at the Queen Mother Theatre. You will also find alternative booking details here.

Essays in history
History of the Metropolitan Police
Daily Mail

Thursday 6 September 2012

'The Ripper's out to get you....'

In the late 1880’s the British public was gripped by the grisly murders of several East End prostitutes. Out of 11 Whitechapel murders between 1888 and 1891, only five are still linked to the infamous Jack the Ripper: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Lizzie Sride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. All had their throats cut and suffered mutilation, leaving the women of the East End gripped with fear. So much hype and mystery surrounded the unsolved murders that, even today, the name ‘Jack the Ripper’ is synonymous with terror. The crimes were considered too much for the local constabulary to tackle and Scotland Yard was brought in, leading to one of the Victorian periods greatest and most notorious man hunts. On 27th September 1888 the Central News Agency received a chilling letter. Beginning “Dear Boss” it went on to say “I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled...”. Signed ‘Jack the Ripper’ it gripped the imagination of the public and gave the murderer his infamous name. After the Eddowes murder on 30th September 1888 the case was so famous that it appeared in newspapers as far away as America and countless theories were being put forward – the Ripper was a doctor, someone working in a slaughterhouse, a lunatic – the tabloids printed lurid pictures of a shabby doctor like figure with a hat and a bag, countless men were arrested on suspicion and released, and vigilante groups started patrolling the streets. The police’s problems escalated when they were flooded with copycat letters from people claiming to be the Ripper. The height of the panic came with the gruesome murder of Mary Kelly in November 1888, which exceeded anything seen before and coincided with the resignation of the Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, Sir Charles Warren. Although there were two further Whitechapel murders, Kelly was probably the Ripper’s last victim.

The true identity of Jack the Ripper and why the murders suddenly stopped is one of criminology’s enduring mysteries, spawning countless books, theories and discussions which continue today. The focus is usually on the Ripper, but our Show, Jack the Ripper by Ron Pember and Denis de Marne, finally gives the victims the chance to speak. Over the next few weeks we will be posting more dramatic cast photos to give you a taster of our production, which runs from 10th - 13th October.

Our rehearsals are picking up pace and we can promise a fascinating Show where memorable music, words, humour and tragedy allow the lives of the Ripper’s victims to finally take centre stage over the notorious murderer himself. Set in a Music Hall and on the dark and grimy streets of London, we invite you into their world.

You can book your tickets for Jack the Ripper on-line at the Queen Mother Theatre. You will also find alternative booking details here.

Reference details taken from: History of the Metropolitan Police.