I remember one session, back in the rehearsal days for Children’s Crusade, Ursula was telling us how she’d stumbled upon the MYT group on MySpace. She seemed surprised that Masque had become part of our personal lives; that it wasn’t just something to keep us occupied on a Tuesday evening.
I think it’s about time I testify how special Masque really is for me. It’s certainly not confined to a weekly two-hour session. It has become an integral part of our lives, and the friends we make, the memories we create and the jokes we share make up who we are.
Looking back, I’ve been in four productions so far. On hearing a line from one of the songs we’ve featured, or a quote said in the right way, I can be taken back to the atmosphere of that production period. It’s amazing how vividly these things are anchored in our memory.
“Sweet lovers love the spring” – that one line, with its sweet harmony and cadential trill, brings a slight, nostalgic smile to my face. I’m reminded, for good more than for bad, of what was going on in my life at the time. Like a soundtrack to a film, the song fits decisively into my life. Who knows whether it was the emotions that fuelled my singing or the song that determined my mood?
“I’ve always longed to travel” – the opening line to a song that Jeni and I shared on-stage, and one of the happiest memories of my time in Masque. Not only have I been part of some fascinating shows, but I’ve also forged some undying friendships. And just as I’m sure Gulliver will make it onto bigger stages with professional casts, I’m sure this song will make a more personal reprise later on in my life.
“Carry me ackee, go a Linstead Market” – it’s songs like this one that have become a tradition at every Masque gathering. Even if they originated from some distant culture, they’ve become part of our culture too, through Masque. Similarly, in looking at Hiawatha, we’re introduced to the concept of oral tradition. In a way, we’re creating our own oral tradition at Masque, because we’re not learning songs and lines for a few fleeting minutes on-stage; we learn them for life.
These memories recreate the atmosphere more so than any photo or video ever could. Of course, Masque will mean different things for each member. And as members come and go, the dynamics of the group will continue to change.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve learnt a difficult but important personal lesson: that things don’t – and shouldn’t – last forever, so you must make the most of things while they last. In terms of Masque, I’ve had to admit to myself that I won’t be a member forever. Or rather, I won’t be a Tuesday evening attendee forever. Because, as Ursula says, nobody ever leaves Masque; they just move on.By Elliot Bannister