The Christmas Dickens Festival at Rochester seems to have become a fixture in my diary: this is the third year in a row that I’ve been.
Having simply photographed faces in the crowd previously, this year I wanted to try something a little different. So, I emailed the Seven Dials Rapscallions to see if they would have any time for some pictures. Very kindly, “Beefy” replied that they would be very happy to give me some time – and that “After all none of them are camera shy, believe me lol.”
Who are the Rapscallions? They describe themselves as Victorian Street theatre. They portray characters on the ragged and bleeding edge of Victorian England: a rough bunch of thieves, vagabonds and drunks.
Beefy is a terrifying character: he looks like a violent drunk, who would slit anyone’s gizzard for a couple of shillings, and then play the injured innocent when accused.
Navy Allman is a skinny rat of a retired seaman, who wears a naval medal with pride; unlike Beefy, he is not at all belligerent, and just seeks a quiet life.
His wife Polly Allman, though, is more cantankerous, and, with a fondness for home-made gin, can unleash her wrath if she feels slighted. Having said that – Polly has a medical condition that makes it hard for her to stand up, and she is not perfectly mobile.
Polly has also been convicted of theft. The actress who plays her – Carol Allman – asked me if I could get a shot of her against a plain background holding something that her crimes could be displayed on. So, we found a piece of card and a plain wall, and captured her mug shot. The edited version (I used a combination of On1 Perfect Effects Free and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2) is the opening shot above.
The final character – agh! – I missed his name. If you’re reading this, please let me know! I had a lovely chat with him. The actor takes a lot of pride in re-enacting historical characters – real and fictional. The Rapscallion is only one of his characters: the others range from several hundred years ago to the 20th Century.
My thanks go to the Rapscallions. We did not have much time before the parade, but I appreciate the time and commitment you gave!
Links to the Rapscallions: