The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
December 9, 10, 11 & 12, 1998
A Man for All Seasons
by Robert Bolt
Directed by Tony Brownings
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
Stage Manager – Dave Collis
ASM – Dave Comber
Lighting – Mike Medway
Sound – Caroline Blick
Sound Recording – Greg Starns
Sound Recording – Dave Comber
Sound Recording – Dave Collis
Sound Recording – Brian Box
Sound Recording – Michael Davy
Sound Recording – Marc Lewis
Stage Crew – Mark Flower
Stage Crew – Sue Whittaker
Stage Crew – Peter Thompson
Stage Crew – Margaret Davy
Stage Crew – Judith Berrill
Set Painter – Sheila Neesham
Set Painter – Frances Thorne
Properties – Margaret Davy
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Costume Manager – Margaret Faggetter
Rehearsal Prompt – Joan Bearman
Front of House Manager – Brian Moulton
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Press & Publicity – Judith Berrill
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Press & Publicity – Frances Thorne
Box Office – Margaret 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.”
Publicity #1: A Man for All Seasons
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 3 1998 issue – page 12
Text Header: “Historical conflicts are still drawing a crowd ”
WICK Theatre Company’s 50th season starts with a production of Robert Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons.
This powerful pay is set in the 16th century with Sir Thomas More as it central character. The main theme is the struggle with his conscience over the matter pf Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Arragon and his break from the Roman Catholic church to create the Church of England.
The conflict between Sir Thomas played by Derek Fraser and Thomas Cromwell played by Bob Ryder as well as the relationship between Sir Thomas, his wife Alice played by Margaret Ockenden and daughter Margaret [Kati Szeless] brings history to fascinating life.
Performances will be at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, from Wednesday to Saturday, December 12, at 7.45pm. Tickets £5. Box office:  597094.
Review #1: A Man for All Seasons
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 17 1998 issue – page 15
Reviewer: Joseph Giacomelli
Text Header: “Outstanding drama deserved better support from the public”
WICK Theatre Company’s latest production of A Man for All Seasons was of such a high standard that professional performers could certainly learn a thing or two from this excellent cast of amateurs. Robert Bolt’s historical drama, directed by Tony Brownings, focused on the dilemmas of Sir Thomas More, whose strong principals ultimately lead to his death at the hand of his ruler, King Henry the Eighth.
The rôle of Sir Thomas More was brilliantly portrayed by Derek Fraser, who conveyed the inner tensions of his character superbly. He had the benefit of performing alongside a talented cast who included the devious Master Richard Rich, played by Adrian Kenward, the villainous Thomas Cromwell, alias Bob Ryder and David Creedon, was marvellous as The Common Man.
All the performers were outstanding along with the production team who made the evening go without a hitch. The lighting and music created a great atmosphere and the detail of the costumes provided the actors with even more authenticity in their rôles. Sadly, it was a shame that more people did not attend the performance on the opening night last Wednesday at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, as the skill and professionalism of everyone involved was worthy of a packed house.
Review #2: A Man for All Seasons
Publication: Wick News
Publication Data: January 1999
Reviewer: Ray Hopper
My heart sank at the message Pam [Ray’s wife] relayed to me: “Kevin [Isaac] says would you write a review of A Man for All Seasons for the next Wick Newsletter”. Why? – Well at least a couple of reasons.
Firstly. I am a speaker rather than a writer – especially when giving criticism I like to adjust my comments according to the feedback that I am getting. I also prefer to give an honest critique to a few selected people who might respect my opinion [ie my daughter!] – if the words “You were marvellous darling” pass my lips it is usually either a lie or a family joke.
Secondly, I carry some baggage about the play – I was marginally involved in the Wick’s original production, with my best man Pat Johnson marvellously in the lead and David Creedon’s inaugural [I think] rôle for the Wick, also then as The Common Man. I also failed to find any inspiration as Henry in Tony Muzzall’s production of Southwick Churches. On the other hand, if I take my turn now it should be about 20 years before it comes round again!
Having got that out of the way I must say I found this to be an excellent production. Music, costumes, settings, lighting, sound, props and above all direction were all top rate. I was particularly pleased that the director and cast seemed to clearly understand the central principles of the play, and my attention was held throughout.
I had some initial difficulty tuning my ears in to the dialogue when suddenly a background fan – presumably from the heating system – cut out and from then on most of the dialogue was crystal clear. One hopes this sort of Barn teething problem will quickly get sorted out – the radiators went on pinging for 20 years or more! I mention this particularly since David Creedon carried out the opening dialogue. Now, I think it fair to say the our 1960’s Common Man, with his rich North Irish brogue, caused many of us some frantic ear tuning, and my initial impression was that less had changed over the years than I would have thought. But after that switched off we were treated to a clear, mature and deliciously sly reading.
I was very happy with Derek’s Sir Thomas More. He caught, I thought, the essential saintliness of the man, both in appearance and manner, whilst also being able to display the intelligence that befitted a Lord Chancellor. If the Common Man was sly, what about the nasty Mr. Cromwell? Yup, Peter Mandelson wearing Machiavelli’s beard. A delightfully odious interpretation by Bob Ryder.
Now to, for me, the great problem with the play. The Immovable Object of More’s moral certainty meets the Irresistible Force of ‘The Greatest Prince in Christendom’. Well, not when I played Henry it didn’t. The meeting took place between Scofield and Robert Shaw in the film, aided by cinematic close-ups of twinkling eye fading to cold steel and mature gravely voices. I simply could not find the required power either in Henry’s dialogue or my own character. If I may pay Phillip Balding the highest compliment of an honest criticism, I felt he had a problem. We saw a perfectly competent performance, but not, I think, the totally overwhelming personality that was the younger Hal.
All of the other characters, save one, were competently and satisfactorily played. Space prevents further individual analysis, but overall I could perhaps have done with a little more definition, clarity of characterisation and risk-taking here and there. The mention of definition reminds me of Kenneth Tynan’s constant search for a ‘High definition performance’, and his excitement on those rare occasions when he found one. I felt his excitement whilst watching David Goodger’s brief appearance as Wolsey – it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. What appalling risks he took – at one stage, with More seated at his left, he suddenly leant far across to the RIGHT side of the table, gripped it with his right hand and stared aghast into the wings – God, what had he seen? Nemesis? A horde of Demons? Continuity dropping the prompt copy? I really don’t want to know – it was just one of the many pieces of a performance I will long treasure.”[/showhide]