Southwick & Fishersgate Community Association – Twenty-Fifth Festival of Arts & Crafts
– National Festival of Community Theatre –
The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
March 17 & 18, 1978.
Adjudicator: Peter Carr
Winning Group: The Rother Players
Best Actor: Christopher Kenneford -The Southwick Players
Best Actress: Patricia Edwards – The Rother Players
Constance Cox, BBC Radio serial writer, presented the prizes.
One-Act Drama Festival
Competitors – in order of appearance:
1. The Barnstormers Youth Theatre Group
by David Campton
Produced by Eileen Faulkner
2. The Aquarius Theatre Group
by Terrence Rattigan
Produced by Peter Harris
3. The Southwick Players
by Tom Stoppard
Produced by Douglas Brodie
4. The Rother Players
The Pen of my Aunt
by Gordon Daviot
Produced by Joanna Evers
5. Wick Theatre Company
Death and Nellie Miller
by Jack Boswell
Produced by Brian Moulton
6. The Aquarius Theatre Group
by J. B. Priestley
Produced by Eileen M. Bass
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: March 23 1978 issue – page 2
Text Header: Chris – best actor
CHRIS KENNEFORD of the Southwick Players, was named best actor at Southwick Community Association’s annual drama festival on Saturday.
Chris’s performance, however, as Inspector Foot in Tom Stoppard’s After Magritte, could not prevent the Rother Players winning the festival for the third year running. Their winning effort was The Pen of My Aunt by Gordon Daviot, which takes them into the second round of the National Festival of Community Theatre at Croydon on May 1.
Runners-up were the Aquarius Theatre Group with Harlequinade by Terence Rattigan.
The festival, held on Friday and Saturday also featured one-act plays by Southwick-based Wick Theatre Company. Wick’s entry was Death and Nellie Miller by Jack Boswell.
Said organiser Mt Andrew Hutchinson: “The standard was very high and we had a three-figure audience on each night.”
BBC radio serial writer Constance Cox presented prizes. Adjudicator was Mr. Peter Carr.
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: March 24 1978 issue
Text Header: Too easy for the festival winner?
The Southwick Community Association Drama Festival, held at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last week, was won by the Rother Players.
I cannot agree with this verdict for a particular reason. With one probable exception, theirs was the easiest play to perform. Accepting the confines of a standard marking sheet I feel that an adjudicator must take into consideration the relative difficulty of the plays entered. If the point is reached when the way to win a festival is to select a simple, small-cast play then surely the festival becomes meaningless.
The festival opened with a production by the Barnstormers Youth Theatre Group of a slightly sick comedy by David Campton called Mutatis Mutandis. This concerned a young couple whose baby is born with teeth, green hair, three eyes and a tail. My praise to a youth group for attempting it, but it really was too difficult for their lack of experience. Timing and the pointing of lines is of great importance and to get this right, calls for a lot of experience.
The next item was a repeat by the Aquarius Theatre Group of Harlequinade, which they recently included in their own evening of light entertainment. The play had been tightened up since its earlier showing but still did not produce all the laughs that are there for the taking. Peter Harris, who directed, took over the rôle of Jack Wakefield and made a more creditable character than the original actor, who was not available for this performance.
Friday’s programme concluded with a rather odd play by Tom Stoppard called After Magritte, with a zany humour reminiscent of N. F. Simpson. It was presented by the Southwick Players and was notable for the extremely funny Inspector Foot created by Christopher Kenneford. He received the best actor of the festival award. Adjudicator Peter Carr gave this play the runner-up trophy.
First on Saturday was the winning entry, The Pen of My Aunt by Gordon Daviot. This is yet another of the many French resistance movement plays and tells the story of the escape of a French soldier under the eyes of a German corporal.
It was competently done but imposed no great demands on the cast of four. Madame, whose work for the resistance was facilitated by being in good standing with the enemy, was played by Patricia Edwards, who received the best actress award.
Another actress who qualified for the award was Audrey Laye in the Wick Theatre Company entry, Death and Nellie Miller. She played Nellie, visited by the Angel of Death who has called to claim her.
Although this play was placed third by the adjudicator, he criticised it strongly and I confess that I found some of his adverse comments difficult to understand. Death, played by Peter Joyce, was a serious and unsmiling young man in sharp contrast to the ordinary housewife on whom he called. I find it difficult to see how this production would have been improved had Death not maintained his gravity.
It is a tenable concept to represent death as a pleasant young fellow who had called in for a chat, but in my view producer, Brian Moulton’s interpretation was preferable. There is a point in the play when the despairing Nellie Miller stabs Death in the back. It was suggested the she should have stabbed him in the stomach. But it is surely improbable that a young and virile man would allow this ageing lady to approach him from the front with a knife.
Concluding the festival was a second entry by the Aquarius Theatre Group, J. B. Priestley’s Mother’s Day, which I reviewed recently. It was reasonably well received by the adjudicator.
A heartening feature of the festival was the good audience attendance on both evenings.