The Story of Noah’s Ark
In my previous post, I mentioned the Noah’s ark project that I’ve been involved in. My stories are now appearing on the English Symphony Orchestra’s website, so I thought I’d write a bit more about it.
I met with Peter Sheeran, the chief executive of ESO, and we discussed how I might be able to contribute in writing to the new productions of Britten’s Noyes Fludde the ESO are performing in Gloucester and Worcester later this month. Luckily he liked my idea of writing a series of flash fictions on the Noah story from the point of view of the different characters or animals. He gave me copies of designs for the ark and the costumes. I drove home from the meeting already planning some of the stories in my head.
The first thing I did was to find out more about the opera itself. Britten wrote it in 1957 (the text is largely based on a 15th century mystery play), and his idea was that it should be performed by professional and amateur musicians together, and that children should play a significant role. The story, according to the mystery play, is that when God told Noah he must build a boat because he was going to send a huge flood to the earth, Noah’s sons and their wives set to in order to help, but that Mrs Noah and her friends mocked him and preferred to carry on drinking!
From there, I went back to the bible to read the Noah story Genesis chapters 6:14. The details are sketchy, but it does contain the measurements of the ark, three hundred cubits long – a cubit being the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger – fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. There was to be a window and a door in the side, and to be made from gopher wood – not entirely clear what sort of wood this might have been – with pitch inside and out. Noah and his sons are named, but their wives are simply wives! I love the fact that Mrs Noah has a very distinct character in Noyes Fludde and she obviously enjoys a drink or two!
Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the story is Noah’s age: he was 500 when he started building the ark and 600 by the time he finished. Clearly people were a lot fitter in those days!
I also drew on the ESO’s costume designs, for example God is a time and motion man, and Noah is Bob the Builder – inspired.
I decided I would write seven stories as seven is a significant number. They are from the perspectives of Noah himself, two of his sons, his wife, a lion, water and the last one takes us back to Noah.
The stories are being posted on the ESO website one at a time as a countdown to the flood. I’m really pleased with the way they look, and hope people enjoy reading them. Three up so far – do have a read and let me know what you think.Tags: English Symphony Orchestra, Noah's Ark, Noyes Fludde