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English students literarily find Jerusalem

Dated: 30 May 2018

 
On May 8th, a group of Year 12 English literature students, who are writing coursework on Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem, went on a bucolic frolic in the Wiltshire countryside, where the play is set.
 
English literature teacher Margery Gretton recounts the day...
 
"Having taken the coach from London, we went by bus from Swindon, where the protagonist of the play, Johnny 'Rooster' Byron, donates his blood and Wesley, the pub landlord, receives directives from the brewery, to the village of Avebury, passing flags of Saint George and a white horse, carved in the hillside, on the way.
 
 
The Traffic Island
 
In Avebury, we stood on the traffic island to feel the force of ley lines, which are reputed to meet there, as in Rooster's Wood.
 
Then we sought out dragons and the names of villagers, going back generations, carved in the church and churchyard.
 
In the Avebury Stone Circle, we saw sarsen stones that had once been 'planted', like the Byron brothers, by medieval villagers, fearful of their pagan power, and markers left to show where others had stood before they were broken up to build the houses of the 'new estate' within the henge in the 1600s.
 
 
Standing Stones
 
 
Silbury Hill 
 
From there, we walked through the avenue of ‘male’ and ‘female’ standing stones, ‘resurrected’ by archaeologists at the beginning of the twentieth century, and past Silbury Hill, which, according to a tale like one told by Rooster in the play, was deposited by a gigantic Devil, duped by a quick-witted cobbler.
 
In the West Kennet long barrow, we entered ancient shadows, like those in Rooster's eyes.
 
 
The Wishing Tree
 
Finally, we returned to the village and back to London, leaving our wishes tied up with ribbons to the wishing tree on Waden Hill."
 
 
Jeremy "Jez" Butterworth is an English playwright, screenwriter, and film director.  His play, Jerusalem, opened in the Jerwood Theatre of the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2009.


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