The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
December 7, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14, 1974.
by Jean Anouilh
Barrie Bowen – Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick
Roger Stott – Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais
Monica Joyce – Joan
Ralph Dawes – Her Father
Betty Dawes – Her Mother
Paul Thompson – Her Brother
George Porter – The Promoter
Douglas Tucker – The Inquisitor
Peter Joyce – Brother Ladvenu
Alan Upton – Robert de Beaudricourt
Ralph Warman – Boudousse, a guard
Ann Baker – Agnes Sorel
Sheila Deasey – The Young Queen
Neil McKellar – Charles, The Dauphin
Ulla Sharman – Queen Yolande
Bill Mack – Archbishop of Rheims
Peter Murrell – M. De La Tremouille
Laura Martin – Page to the Dauphin
Jack Bingham – Captain La Hire
Alan Upton – The Hangman
Paul Vrettos – An English Soldier
Peter Harrison – A Monk
Producer – Bill Mack
Stage Manager – Paul Vrettos
Assistant Stage Manager – Ethel Barrs
Assistant Stage Manager – Frances Thorne
Assistant Stage Manager – Ralph Warman
Assistant Stage Manager – Peter Harrison
Set Design – Sue Chaplin [based on a design by Jean-Denis Malcles]
Set Construction – Paul Vrettos
Costumes – Diana Parrish
Lighting Plot – Frank Hurrell
Sound – Roger Stott
Sound – Andrew Theaker
Properties – Margaret Davy
Programme Note #1: The Lark
AW wrote: “Jean Anouilh has written The Lark on his recurring theme of the persecution of the innocent.
In this production I have taken ‘the innocent’ as the artist in society – suffering, under the weight of his talent, manipulation, misunderstanding, and even hatred from the different groups in which he finds himself, albeit receiving sympathy, help and encouragement in like measure. The author has presented his argument in the wrapping of a charming comedy.”
Programme Note #2: The Lark
“In recent years we have established a strong and successful tradition for plays set in the medieval/renaissance period: our productions of A Man for All Seasons, Beckett, and A Lion in Winter are still frequently referred to, by cast and audience alike. We are confident that The Lark will do full justice to this tradition.
Anna Welsh has not directed before but she brings to the task her years of experience as a professional actress. Sadly, this will probably be the last part that Ann Baker plays for us as she plans to go to live in Athens early next year. We have also lost Tony Morrison, one of our most dedicated back stage members; Tony is now working in North Africa.
The Secretary Bird will probably have been cast by the time this production opens and this delightful comedy should do something to cheer up what could be a rather dismal February! ”
Publicity #1: The Lark
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 6 1974 issue – page 2
Text Header: “ANNA’S LARK”
ANNA WELSH, a former professional actress who joined the Wick Theatre Company two years ago, turns her talents to directing for the Wick’s production of Jean Anouilh’s The Lark, running at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, from tomorrow [Saturday] until December 14.
Monday’s performance is in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Anna will be remembered for her performance for the Wick as Queen Eleanor in A Lion in Winter , and the Baroness in White Liars. The Lark is the first play she has directed. It tells the story of Joan of Arc, and although the play has both strength and substance, the emphasis in this production is on the comic quality of Anouilh’s writing.
Monica Joyce has been cast as Joan and other leading rôles are: Warwick, Barry Bowen; Capuchon, Roger Stott; the Inquisitor, Douglas Tucker; and the Dauphin, Neil McKellar.
Review #1: The Lark
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 13 issue – page 4
Text Header: “Superb acting by the Wick Theatre Company”
PERHAPS it was wrong to go into Southwick Barn Theatre on Tuesday with the idea that Joan of Arc was a French peasant girl with an over-developed faith and ego equalled only by a crafty line in chat. It took five minutes for Monica Joyce, as Joan in the Wick Theatre Company’s presentation of Joan Anouilh’s The Lark, to start the doubts; 15 minutes to be convinced she did hear voices and was an instrument of God; and a strong will-power to prevent a certain reporter becoming completely carried away when Joan got too close to the fire. Anna Welsh’s directing was that good, the play even more so and the actors superb.
There are some light, amusing moments in the play, particularly when Joan is convincing Robert de Beaudricourt [Alan Upton] and The Dauphin [Neil McKellar] that she is the person to lead France into battle against the English, but the underlying message is a serious one.
Anna Welsh, in her programme notes, likens it to the present day artist in society suffering under the weight of his own talent. There is manipulation, misunderstanding and even hatred. Most of it boils down to fear.
The play opens with Joan about to reveal her story to the four men responsible for her untimely end and the audience see flash-backs of Joan’s life. With a simple, interchangeable and ingenious set, it works well.
We now come to the men, The Promoter [George Porter] is as near being unhinged as makes no difference and nothing would suit him better than to see a dozen heretics burning at the stake. The evidence against them is not important. The Inquisitor, chillingly played by Douglas Tucker, waits in silence until his favourite hobby-horse is raised then, with single-mindedness that is almost petrifying, rides it to death. The Earl of Warwick [Barry Bowen] wants nothing more than to get Joan out of the way so that he can continue his war. Nothing personal you understand. She just happens to be in the way. Then the Bishop of Beauvais [Roger Stott] who appears to want to help, but is chained by the church, his own lack of imagination and a lifetime of playing to the rules.
As Joan dies all realise their mistake, but then it is too late. It is always too late. Those four men are in today’s society in different forms, and if Joan came back, although she would escape the stake, she would probably be locked away.
Neil McKellar, Alan Upton, Barry Bowen, Roger Stott, and Douglas Tucker, stood out in an excellent cast, but it was Monica Joyce who brought Joan to life and destroyed a cynic’s point of view.
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Walter Hix
Text Header: “Poor Joan – a manipulated woman”
The current production by the Wick Theatre Company of Anouilh’s The Lark has much to commend it, and also much that is controversial. In her programme note the director, Anna Welsh, claims to have seen the play as ‘ the artist in society – suffering under the weight of his talent, manipulation, misunderstanding and even hatred from the different groups in which he finds himself …’ This could account for the very middle-class Joan with which we were presented, but I must question whether it is valid to effect this distortion to promote a theory. Would, for example, a pallidly aesthetic Henry Vlll be acceptable because it was desired to show him as a scholarly musician? However, in the context in which it is shown, the performance is first-rate. Monica Joyce as the village girl who obeys her Voices, speaks her lines with beauty and intelligence and never descends to the over-emotional; Alan Upton is an earthy De Beaudricourt and Barry Bowen a very fine Earl of Warwick.
There is subtle skill in the way that, while all – of course – speak the same tongue, Warwick stands out as an Englishman, among foreigners. Douglas Tucker is an ascetic and astringent inquisitor, George Porter a fanatical and sex-obsessed promoter, with Roger Stott as Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, Bill Mack as the Archbishop of Rheims and Peter Joyce as Brother Ladvenu.
Fine performance also by Neil McKellar as the ineffectual Dauphin. Aside from Joan, the ladies have little opportunity, but Ulla Sharman as Queen Yolande, Sheila Deasey as the young Queen, and Ann Baker as the Dauphin’s mistress, Agnes, all make their adequate contribution. Joan’s parents are Ralph and Betty Dawes, other parts being played by Paul Thompson, Ralph Warman, Peter Murrell, Laura Martin, Jack Bingham, Paul Vrettos and Peter Harrison.
Costumes vary from the sublime to the ridiculous and, as usual, it is the unfortunate clerics who are worst served. There is an elegantly practical stage setting by Sue Chaplin.