Then instead there comes a burst of sun light, and - for a moment - the beam places you in the centre of two perfect squares of light. And just for that second, the scuttling sounds of the wards subside. Silence. You contemplate your sudden new situation like a chess position... The moment passes. Time begins again, the day swirls on... Later you pass the same spot. Again, it's the only spot in the whole hospital still, quiet, empty. Once again, your mind turns to chess.
Now, fast forward in time to today. The person who found this place for paused, chess-like contemplation in the hectic hustle of St George's Hospital in Tooting is Sarah Weatherall. She's one of the two Artistic Directors of Lightning Ensemble, "a theatre company and registered charity created in 1995 to develop new writing for theatre," - whose "aim is to bring innovative theatre to a wide and diverse audience in non-traditional theatre spaces."
And this moment has gone on to inspire Sarah to create The Chess Players: a chess-based theatre performance in the hospital that will run Thursday 1st, Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd November of this year. And this is where you might come in.
Sarah writes that she:
would like to include two or three tables for chess players to play speed chess with patients, visitors and staff at the hospital. The actors will engage with the public and pass them onto the volunteer chess players. We imagine that the volunteer chess players will fill between 1 - 2 hours a day and we welcome anyone who would like to take part in this project. The volunteer chess players will need to interact with the public and should have an interest in working with all levels of chess skill. Lightning Ensemble can meet volunteers prior to the project if they wish to practice on novices or learn more about us face-to-face.So, a creative project based in one of the local community's key institutions and centred on chess is looking for players. Are you interested? Then you can contact Sarah directly on 07970 626 636, or via email, to volunteer or to find out more...
(PS. As for the performance itself, it's equally intriguing. Sarah says that it aims "to slow down time in the busy environs of St George's Hospital, Tooting, one of Europe's largest teaching hospitals. A series of chess games will be played, set in 1855 between characters inspired by the acquisitive Lord Dalhousie in India and Muhammad Bahadur Shah Zafar 11, a poetry loving Mughal. Two talented actors, who are also committed chess players, will play and lose with high stakes - that of territory in India.")