Posts Tagged ‘The Lions part’

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali – 2005

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali: In 2005 much of my photography was of cultural and religious events as well as political protests on the streets of London. And on Sunday 23rd October I photographed a harvest festival event on the South Bank before going to Marble Arch to photograph a Muslim procession. The text here is revised from my 2005 accounts on the October 2005 page of My London Diary and some picture captions.

October Plenty: The Lions Part – Globe Theatre & Bankside

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

The Lions Part Is a group of actors who came together in the Original Shakespeare Company But now pursue independent professional careers in theatre and TV etc. They now work together on various projects including three regular celebrations on Bankside in co-operation with the Globe Theatre.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

One of these is October Plenty, loosely based on traditional english harvest festivities and particularly celebrating the apple and grain harvest.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

Characters in the procession include the Green Man (or Berry Man), the Hobby Horse and a large Corn Queen stuffed with fruit and veg, not to mention a violin-playing Dancing Bear with other musicians and more characters who take part in several plays and performances in various locations.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

The day started in front of the Globe Theatre with the bear, then the procession came and led us into the Globe Theatre, where they gave a short performance before we left to go through the streets to Borough Market where further plays and games were scheduled. I decided it was time for lunch and to go to another event and left at this point.

more pictures

The Martydom Of Ali, Hub-E-Ali – Marble Arch

Hub-E-Ali organise an annual mourning program in London to mark the Martydom Of Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and the first person to embrace Islam, who was martyred in 660CE in Kufa, Iraq.

Ali was struck by a poisoned sword while leading dawn prayers in the mosque, and died two days later. The event and its consequences continue to divide Muslims down to the present day.

Many (and not only Muslims) have regarded Ali as the model of a just Islamic ruler, working to establish peace, justice and morality. The procession both marks the killing of Ali and also looks forward to the day when a descendant of the prophet Muhammad will return to be the saviour of the world.

It also celebrates the duty of the followers of Islam to speak out against oppression and immorality, and to live pious lives in solidarity with the oppressed.

To show their sorrow, those taking part in the mourning parade (Jaloos) recite eulogies about Ali and beat their breasts (Seena Zani.) A ceremonial coffin (Taboot) is carried as a part of the procession, along with symbolic flags. There was also a long session of recitations before the procession.

more pictures

More from October 2005

St George’s Day 2009

Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

St George’s Day 2009: On Thursday April 23rd 2009 I came up to London to find and photograph celebrations taking place of St George’s Day. People had for some years been calling for a proper celebration of the English Patron Saint’s day, but it was still hard to find much celebrations to photograph.

St George’s Day – Trafalgar Square

St George's Day 2009

I began at Trafalgar Square, where some events were said to be taking place, but there was relatively little happening when I arrived shortly after lunch. In 2009 St George’s Day was a Thursday which was perhaps why few people had come.

There were a handful of people from ‘The English Democrats’ who had dressed up for the day as a part of their campaign for an English Parliament and for St George’s Day to be made an English national holiday. I photographed them together with a couple of women making a charity collection for ‘Save the Children’.

St George's Day 2009

The English Democrats told me that the previous year they had been refused entry to the National Gallery because they were wearing the flag of St George. I went with them when they tried again this year and they were allowed in but were told they could not campaign or collect money in the gallery.

St George's Day 2009

While I was in the square a number of others wandered in wearing shirts, hats or badges or red roses were obviously expecting something to be happening and were disappointed. Although some event was planned for the Saturday it seemed odd there seemed so little interest on the day itself.

St George’s Day – Trafalgar Square

The Lions part: St George & the Dragon – Red Cross Garden & Southwark Cathedral

St George's Day 2009

Rather more was happening across the river in Southwark, where The Lions part, a group of performers associated with the Globe Theatre on Bankside, were celebrating the day with a series of performances of ‘The Ballad of St George & the Dragon’.

I went to watch their short musical variation on the traditional story of St George in Red Cross Garden, which along with the adjoining hall and cottages was established by the social reformer Octavia Hill in 1897-90. I arrived a little late and the performance had already begun, but fortunately after a short interval they gave a second performance.

Many of the audience were children from the nearby cathedral school, and they clearly enjoyed it.

After the performance I walked with the players as they made their way through Borough Market to Southwark Cathedral to give another performance in the churchyard there.

The Lions part: St George & the Dragon

The George Inn, Borough High St, Southwark

I left the performers at Borough Market and made my way to the George Inn on Borough High St, a Grade I listed galleried coaching inn owned by the National Trust. It was rebuilt in 1677 following a great fire which destroyed much of Southwark with three fronts around a courtyard, though only one has survived. It was formerly known as the George and Dragon.

Again I arrived late, as there had been a procession of people in costume earlier, but there were still a few people there I could photograph.

The George Inn, Southwark

England Supporters, Trafalgar Square

I went back over the river to Trafalgar Square where I now found around 25 football supporters, many in England shirts having a noisy time on the plinth of Nelson’s column.

They seemed to be enjoying themselves and were happy to be photographed. One of the street performers with a regular pitch on the North Terrace had joined them, and the Heritage Wardens seemed to be emulating Nelson and viewing the various breaches of the bylaws with a blind eye.

England Supporters,Trafalgar Square

St George & the Dragon, Trafalgar Square

Apparently the National Gallery had been celebrating the day by inviting the the Suffolk Howlers to perform their traditional ‘St George & The Dragon’ in front of Tintoretto Saint George and the Dragon in the gallery.

After finishing there they had come out from the gallery and were going to give a performance in Trafalgar Square, despite the competition from those celebrating around Nelson.

As I wrote, their version “had a little more complex plot than the version I’d seen earlier in Southwark, including Beelzebub, a doctor and a Turkish knight, with additional contributions from a couple of bystanders, one who had been imbibing from a bottle labelled Lucozade that appeared to have rather more intoxicating properties than usual, and the other the displaced street performer. While he largely draped himself over the “Please do not feed the pigeons banner’, Lucozade man took a far more active role in the proceedings, giving first aid to the injured St George and executing some surprisingly nimble dance steps and generally adding a chaotic improvisation to the performance. He really deserved the applause when he took a bow with the rest of the cast at the end of the play.”

St George & the Dragon