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A Man for All Seasons

The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre

December 9, 10, 11 & 12, 1998

A Man for All Seasons

by Robert Bolt

Directed by Tony Brownings

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“Outstanding drama”
– Shoreham Herald –


David Creedon – The Common Man

Derek Fraser – Sir Thomas More

Adrian Kenward – Master Richard Rich

John Barham – The Duke of Norfolk [Earl Marshal of England]

Margaret Ockenden – Lady Alice More [Wife of Sit Thomas]

Katalin Szeless – Lady Margaret More [Daughter of Sir Thomas]

David Goodger – Cardinal Wolsey

Bob Ryder – Thomas Cromwell

Ron Newman – Signor Chapuys [The Spanish Ambassador]

John Garland – William Roper

Philip Balding – King Henry the VIII

Ralph Dawes – Thomas Cranmer [Archbishop of Canterbury]

Peter Thompson – Chapuys’ Attendant

Mark Flower – Norfolk’s Attendant

Judith Berrill – Woman of Lincoln

Production Crew

Stage ManagerDave Collis

ASMDave Comber

LightingMike Medway

SoundCaroline Blick

Sound RecordingGreg Starns

Sound RecordingDave Comber

Sound RecordingDave Collis

Sound RecordingBrian Box

Sound RecordingMichael Davy

Sound RecordingMarc Lewis

Stage CrewMark Flower

Stage CrewSue Whittaker

Stage CrewPeter Thompson

Stage CrewMargaret Davy

Stage CrewJudith Berrill

Set PainterSheila Neesham

Set PainterFrances Thorne

PropertiesMargaret Davy

PropertiesSue Whittaker

Costume ManagerMargaret Faggetter

Rehearsal PromptJoan Bearman

Front of House ManagerBrian Moulton

Press & PublicityRosemary Bouchy

Press & PublicityJudith Berrill

Press & PublicityRosemary Brown

Press & PublicityFrances Thorne

Box OfficeMargaret Murrell

Programme Note #1: A Man for All Seasons

TB wrote “Historical Note – ‘The King’s Divorce’.

Sir Thomas More was a famous enough figure in his day – as a scholar, a lawyer and as a statesman. But he has become much more famous down the centuries because of the events which led to his death. How was it that a man so admired by his King and his contemporaries could end up being beheaded by the State for high treason?
Much of the reason lay in King Henry’s growing dissatisfaction with his wife, Catherine of Aragon. She was the widow of Henry’s older brother, Arthur, who died in 1502. At the time there were good reasons of state for Henry to marry her. The marriage caused no trouble for many years and Henry was able to enjoy distractions elsewhere. But there was an increasing concern that Catherine was unable to ‘produce’ a male heir for him and for the Tudor line [though hindsight suggests the fertility of Henry himself may have been more to the point]. Catherine was six years older than Henry: aged 40 in 1525, she is said to have grown quite plain. Mistress Anne Boleyn was a goodly young thing, assumed to be much fitter for breeding, and Henry was verily smitten.

Problem. Unless Catherine were to die, only a divorce could clear the way for Henry and Anne to make a legitimate heir to the throne. And only the Pope had the authority under canon law to grant such a divorce. To be sure, there were some good arguments under canon law for annulling the marriage; and there were arguments against it too. But the crucial thing was that Rome had recently fallen under tight Spanish control. The Poe was simply not going to grant something which the King of Spain strongly opposed.

Henry was nothing if not strong willed. He developed a solution which stripped the Pope of his authority over the Church in England. In 1532, by Act of Parliament, Henry himself became Supreme Head of the Church in England, and then divorced himself from Catherine. Some, like Wolsey, who were too slow to achieve the King’s will, had fallen by the wayside. Other, like Thomas Cromwell, who were more eager prospered. And some, like Thomas More, who were visibly in the way, got crushed.

But Henry’s move against the Church was not simply a bit of over-reaction by a man with marital problems and a bad temper. It was the conscious act of a ruler who wanted to be a s strong in his own kingdom as Charles of Spain and François of France were in theirs. By breaking the power of the Church in England, and seizing a fair slice of its assets and revenues, he greatly strengthened the power of the Tudor monarchy. In the broad sweep of history, a man of resolute principal like Thomas More stands little chance of surviving a ruthless power struggle of that kind. But history also has its way of honouring the victims. And Robert Bolt’s play demonstrates very clearly the more abiding power of thought, conscience and principle.”