Another 50 years of Imperial's Budleigh shows?
One can get a bit lost amidst all the name changes: IC Dramatic Society, IC Operatic Society – or ICOS as it became in 1956; and then ICU Musical Theatre Society in 2003… but there was also Imperial Opera until 2007, when it finally became Imperial Productions.
The company’s relationship with the town goes back a long way, states the website.
Since 1968, the Public Hall, pictured above, has been the permanent location for the annual summer tour. Indeed, this is now the only venue at which the company performs outside of London.
The title itself of German’s opera refers, according to a definition that I found elsewhere online, to ‘a utopian conception of English society and culture based on an idyllic pastoral way of life’ full of ‘nostalgic overtones’ and ‘incorporating such cultural symbols as the thatched cottage, the country inn and the Sunday roast’.
Such a conception, it is said, ‘may be treated both as a product of the sentimental nostalgic imagination and as an ideological or political construct, often underwriting various sorts of conservative world-views.’ It reveals ‘a nostalgia for aspects of an earlier society that are missing in modern times.’
Is this how Budleigh Salterton was viewed from London by Imperial College in the heady days of the 1960s and ‘the student revolution’?
Preparing the Public Hall for a show in 2011
Whatever the explanation, there’s no doubt that there is a mutual bond of loyalty between both Imperial performers and Budleigh audiences. As well as the summer tour, the company’s programme has ‘Christmas Budleigh’ - which it describes as the affectionate name for its annual long weekend spent in the town, ‘planned to coincide with local late-night Christmas shopping and general festive cheer’ as the website explains to prospective performers. ‘It's much shorter than the summer tour, a lot more frantic, but loads of fun.’
With all the anniversary events that have occurred in 2018, one might well feel that Imperial Productions deserved its own place of honour. So here’s my feeble tribute to the talented entertainers who have so loyally kept up their link with Budleigh. It’s just a list of the shows that have been put on in the town’s Public Hall under those various names: