KENILWORTH CASTLE, WARWICKSHIRE
The screenplay opens at night, with a barn owl winging its way to a ruined abbey where Morgen, his band, and the Trashbabies (his nine-lady chorus of singer-dancers), perform a May Eve concert being telecast live on a brightly lit stage erected against one of the abbeys outer walls, before a large gathering of rock fans.
Many natural locations of special beauty, ugliness, majesty, or historical significance have become sacred throughout the ages. Natural forms singled out for sanctity range from hills and mountains, to caves and lakes, to forests and even to individual trees and stones. Many sacred places are associated with local pagan deities, and their ancient ceremonies, however watered-down, still survive into the modern era.
Well-dressing in the Derbyshire Dales is surely a post-Christian survival of some pagan sacrifice to the god or goddesses of the local wells. Despite protests of such worthies as St. Anselm, who in 1102 A.D. condemned such idolatry, in Derbyshire, at least, the early Christian Church absorbed rather than suppressed the practice. Today, interdenominational services are held to "bless" the well-dressing (if not the actual well), and many of the colorful "dressings" have Christian themes. Decorating the wells is a communal effort and the traditional, exclusive use of natural materials, such as bark, mosses and flower petals is probably echoed in the exclusive use of natural materials in the decoration of the floats for the Annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.
The early Church's takeover of sacred pagan precincts was not always so benign. Sacred groves were sometimes felled so that churches and abbeys could be built in their place. But in Britain the church came into direct conflict with the crown and today, after several centuries of religious and civil strife, many abbeys lie in ruins, haunted, perhaps, by those same ancient spirits they once sought to supplant. Morgen's May-Eve concert is a hedonistic secular celebration, but the spirits his music awakens may be very ancient indeed.
There are ruined monasteries and abbeys enough in Britain to illustrate the story, but on this expedition, before we realized Kenilworth was such a famous historical monument, we thought it would pass beautifully for the ruined abbey. Our scouting expeditions in the U.K. were all financed out-of-pocket, so as soon as we found something workable, we moved on to the next item on our location shopping list.
The songs from the opening May Eve Concert that would be performed here that night are "Witchy Stew" and "The Stranger." The songs performed here on Halloween would be "Fool in Concert/Morningstone (Fate)" and "Sweet Mystery."
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