George Laye – Tribute

In Memory of

George Laye

1922 – 2002

Wick News March 2003 the carried this tribute from Jean Porter (Vice-President)

“In 1969 Audrey and George Laye visited the Barn Theatre to see The School for Scandal, having been to other drama companies in the area. They were impressed and joined Wick!

Before moving to Sussex, George designed the stage workshops and lighting rig for the Kenton Theatre, Henley-upon-Thames. Wick soon formed a strong link with Henley and entered their festivals for One-Act-Plays. Our awards included best actress for Audrey and George for design. We soon realised the talents of George in 1970 when he designed his first three-act for Wick, Audrey’s production of Say Who You Are. We were invited to take this production to Henley. They were very happy days with trips on the river and lovely meals!

By this time we had become close friends with Audrey and George. In the early 1970s George was even more involved with Wick. He took over as Chairman of the Committee. I was Secretary at the time and soon realised the true nature and character of the man. He had great integrity and even if you were a friend you got it straight from the shoulder. On one occasion I stepped out of line as secretary and didn’t I know it! We were still great pals afterwards. It was during this time that we had some beautiful sets from George including My Three Angels and The Amorous Prawn. In 1973 he designed and technically directed Pianissimo, a memorial concert to Peggy King. Artists came from all over the country. The core was Wick and Southwick Players, plus professionals artists launched by Peggy as their agent and musical director. The Barn now has a very old but beautiful grand piano from the proceeds. Another memorable set was designed by George in 1975 – When We Are Married.

1976 was a year George never forgot. I was directing My Fair Lady and was short of a voice to take the tenor line in the chorus. Typical of George’s modesty he never realised he had a true tenor voice and was a lovely dancer – along with so many other talents, what a gift!

Before moving away with his work in the early 1980s, we had two other gems – The Marquise and Hobson’s Choice. As usual these were directed by Audrey. George and Audrey returned in 1989 for a repeat of When We Are Married followed by An Inspector Calls and Jane Eyre in 1990. It was during When We Are Married that George suggested taking high-quality photographs for public display. They were a great success. This developed the idea of a photograph display in the theatre foyer. George constructed and contributed to the cost himself to ensure we had the best. Again the workmanship is first class. The last time I worked with George was on Amadeus. He was my Technical Director. I needn’t say any more.

We have been close to Audrey and George for years. He was a very modest, talented gentleman. We will miss him.”


And this from Frances Thorne writing on behalf of the Workshop Team

“It was with great regret that we learned of the death of George Laye. The workshop team feel that they have lost one of their own. He designed and helped construct many of the sets used on the Wick stage, although he wasn’t too happy when we stenciled one flat upside down! He also stage managed many plays with great humour and patience and never gave less than full support and back-up to his stage staff. There was a permanent running gag that the scenery looked so much better without actors cluttering up the art work! He enjoyed teasing the props girls about the sound of knitting needles clacking away in the wings and was forever expecting a ball of wool to roll on stage. He was truly committed to whatever he undertook and we very much enjoyed working with him.

We will remember him with great affection and would like to send our sincere sympathies to his wife Audrey, who was also devoted to the company.”

Commenting on his visit September 6th 2002 to Lancing Citizens Advice Bureau’s (CAB) – East Worthing & Shoreham MP Tim Loughton said:

“I was very pleased for the opportunity to visit Lancing CAB and present George and Audrey Laye with long-service certificates for the 11 years they have dedicated to helping and advising the many thousands of people that have needed their guidance through the services of the Lancing CAB.

Their commitment to our local community has been recognised firstly through their involvement as chairman and secretary respectively of Sompting Residents Association and then through the Lancing CAB. They fully deserve a very happy retirement and I wish them all the best.”