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The Dresser

The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.

October 8, 9, 10 & 11, 2003.

The Dresser

by Ronald Harwood

“Pacey, intense – sustained joy”
– West Sussex Gazette –


Directed by
Pat Lyne


David Creedon – ‘Sir’

Bob Ryder – Norman

Kati Szeless – Irene

David Goodger – Geoffrey

Sheelagh Baker – Her Ladyship

Diane Robinson – Madge

Tony Brownings – Oxenby

David Bickers – Shakespearean

Kevin Isaac – Shakespearean

John Garland – Shakespearean


Production Crew

Lighting – Mike Medway

Sound – Simon Snelling

Stage Manager – David Comber

Technical Stage Manager – John Garland

ASM – Olive Smith

Technicians – Chris Grey

Technicians – Janice Gooch

Properties – Sue Whittaker

Properties – Margaret Davy

Wardrobe – Margaret Pierce

Wardrobe – Judith Berrill

Set Construction – Dave Collis

Set Construction – Mike Davy

Set Construction – Brian Box

Set Construction – David Comber

Set Construction – Marc Lewis

Press & Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy

Press & Publicity – Rosemary Brown

Press & Publicity – Judith Berrill

Box Office – Margaret Murrell

Front of House Co-ordinator – Betty Dawes


Programme Note #1: The Dresser

From the eighteenth century right through to the Second World War, the ‘actor-manager’ was the British theatre. He played from one end of the country to the other, taking his repertory to the people – frequently offering five different plays in a week’s ‘run’ in each town. They rarely played London. Their stamping-ground was the provinces. They toured under awful conditions, like the miserable railway journeys on Sundays [mentioned in The Dresser] and the long hours in the freezing cold at Crewe station waiting for train connections. They developed deep reserves of strength and determination, essential if they were to survive. They worshipped Shakespeare, believed in the theatre as a cultural and educational force, and saw themselves as noble public servants.

Nowadays we tend to laugh a little at this strange breed, represented by ‘Sir’ in Ronald Harwood’s play. There is no denying that their obsessions and single-mindedness often made them ridiculous, so they were often written off by London critics as megalomaniacs and hams. But in truth, many of them were extraordinary and very talented.

The Dresser is of course about the backstage drama of one such imaginary touring company, not least the struggle of Sir’s loyal assistant, Norman, to ensure that the show does indeed go on. It has been a popular stage play ever since it opened in 1980, featuring Tom Courtney and Freddie Jones. And it became even better known in the faithful film adaptation, when Courtney was joined by Albert Finney. The film won many awards and is now a British cinema classic. However, this is a work essentially about the life of the theatre – and there is no better place to enjoy it!