The result of having incorporated as a company under the banner of Promenade Promotions Limited, in 2005 led to a range of potential applications from the company which impacted upon The Rotters: the largest of these was the re-submission of a failed Heritage Lottery Fund from 1984, which in 1995 proved successful (hoorah!). This was a two-year project called ‘We Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside’ and worked with communities and local archive resources to unearth and re-present the history of pierrots on the East Yorkshire Coast. We worked with 2 schools from Whitby, a special needs group from Goole and the youth theatre from Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal, who each researched one of four resorts, filmed The Pierrotters performing at them and then made exhibitions and films about the troupes. The four locations were Whitby, Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington. (There were further impacts developed for 2006, which I describe in next year’s section).
This archival work tied-in with the Stephen Joseph Award I received from the Society for Theatre Research towards examining the history of pierrots in Yorkshire. There are a number of letters here to those individuals I contacted to try and find-out more about the practice of pierrots from those who had done it and including folk like Bill Pertwee, Max Tyler , Bert & Mave Chapman and Geoff Mellor – the only people to have written on the subject over the previous 40 years!
2005 was also the year that I was invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen – it was intriguing receive an invitation from Buck House completely out of the blue and at first, I thought it must be a hoax, especially as it was addressed officially to ‘Uncle Tacko’. I fought with my Republican tendencies for a while, but decided that I would attend, because I felt that I should be there on behalf of all those seaside pierrots who had never received official recognition for their art for over a century. I promised myself that I would be myself as ‘Uncle!’ and dressed in my best, 3-piece, vermillion check suit – it was one of the most remarkable days of my life and gave me many tales to tell, some of which were recorded for BBC Radio on a programme first broadcast a year later called ‘The Day I Met the Queen’ listed here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/
We were administrated this year by Tom Appelbee and we played in Whitby, Richmond, Scarborough, Bridlington and Filey as part of the HLF programme of work, as well as for the National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough and in London. Videos were made at each by the community groups and they can all be seen in the video section of this website.
One of the most exciting performance of the year was at The Globe on London’s Embankment, where we played to 800, largely Japanese tourists. Mark Rylance and myself had something of an upstaging competition as we judged a curious cross-dressed Shakespeare look-alike competition, before performing The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God. I wrote to him afterwards and to thank him and say how much we’d enjoyed the gig, how like the Sun Deck at Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion the venue was and would he like us for a season of work – he never replied…snob! Ken Campbell was also there, which was a pleasant reunion, as he used to come and stay at my house in Bradford in years gone by.
Another thrilling gig was performing at the Grand Theatre & Opera House, Blackpool to open the National Theatre of Variety: I had the great privilege of opening the proceedings dressed as Joey Grimaldi with an address I had written, before dashing backstage to change into pierrot kit. The Pierrotters represented a century of seaside entertainers for the inauguration of the national home of variety entertainment. I remember sitting in our costumes in the wings with Gacko, as we watched in awe as the box sketch was performed live for us by Eli Woods, James Casey and Bernie Clifton (in the Roy Castle role).
A milestone of the year was that Gacko passed his driving test, which meant that instead of hitch-hiking his way to rehearsals and gigs, he could now join the delights of endless traffic jams and petrol invoices.
Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside
A video of a powerpoint presentation about the Heritage Lottery Fund project – phase 1
History of the Pierrots (2005)
Insight in to the Pierrot troupes of yesteryear and their modern equivalent ‘The Pierrotters’