Tag Archives: Amateur Dramatics

Throwback #3


Is time flying by? In a period when you might expect it to be dragging it seems that the days are rushing past and the one week gap I planned between this post and the previous has become, apparently, an 18 day week.

Another case of time flying by is the thirteen years that have passed since we performed Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce.

About ‘Bedroom Farce’

Produced by Janet Drewery this was our last play of the 2007 season, performed in early May.

Trevor and Susannah, whose marriage is on the rocks, inflict their miseries on their nearest and dearest: three couples whose own relationships are tenuous at best.

Typically, Ayckbourn’s titles are misleading – Bedrooms are certainly featured but it’s not really a farce, but a comedy that takes place sequentially in the three beleaguered couples’ bedrooms during one endless Saturday night of co-dependence and dysfunction; beds, tempers, and domestic order are ruffled, leading all the players to a hilariously touching epiphany.

Our sets are always challenging but creating three bedrooms with beds, at different levels, on that stage was a special demand, not just for building it but for sourcing three beds (and disposing / returning them afterwards) and for the actors having to move throughout the play between the bedrooms. Even at dress rehearsal actors were heard to be shouting “Excuse me, just which bedroom am I supposed to be in at the moment please?” Although perhaps the true quotation was somewhat more blunt and explicit at the time.

The cast; ; Back row L to R, Rob Newton, Dianne Turner, Richard Bateman, Wendy Elliot
In bed: L to R Phil Johnson, Jayne Hewson, Gill Collins, Steve Howland.

Our dress rehearsal photos were not as well served in those days for some reason only a few non-digital prints were taken – but here they are – please scroll through the gallery.

As with most plays, not everything went to plan, although the audience is (usually) unaware. This play remains in our memory for the broken finger incident. On the first night Jayne tripped and fell over a stage prop on the very condensed stage. The result, not immediately obvious other than the blinding pain, was a broken finger. This misfortune made it somewhat difficult for her to do the quick costume change backstage and even harder to carry out a comedy scene where she was undressed in bed and was supposed to put on a dress whilst under the covers. Working with one hand she managed to put the dress on – back to front – a longer than expected scene as she agonisingly corrected the problem while the Producer wondered what was happening as, to the audience, the bed took on the appearance of a sack of ferrets having a fight.

Most of the cast were very concerned about her while I, in my usual state of self-absorbed oblivion back stage between scenes, somehow remained ignorant of the situation, even to the extent that when she stepped briefly into the wings, pale faced and in anguish, lifted her hand with her little finger twisted in an unnatural position and mouthed (so she told me later) “it’s definitely broken” I simply grinned and gave her a thumbs up and mouthed ‘Great!”

My apparent lack of empathy and social awareness on that day remains a talking point, and my intuitive lip reading ability is still non-existent.

With her fingers bound after an A&E visit, she was able to perform the following nights, albeit with difficulty in those awkward on stage scenes. Well, as they say – “the show must…..” – you know the rest.

Backstage crew: Rachel Miller, Janet Drewery (Producer), Barbara Failey, Tina Addington, Dave Ralph and Bernard Reuben (in front)

More reminiscences and a dive into the archives in our next post!

Lockdown News

Next weekend would have been set build for our final play of the season but with the cancellation of our April production The Petuaria Players are, like everyone else, lying low.

What does it mean for the Petuaria Players?

It means that our summer period of rest has started prematurely and who knows how long it will continue. Technology and online interaction has replaced our meetings. This means that we can continue to communicate and arrange our play readings and discussions, something which will accelerate shortly. But it also means we can still do what we do best – socialise. Courtesy of Zoom and essential stocks of alcohol and nibbles we can meet more often than we did before! All without requiring a taxi home.

Boozy Quiz Night

What about next season?

Everyone knows that nobody knows. This strange world we are in will continue for some time to come and it is not hard to imagine that a degree of restrictions and behavioural recommendations will affect our drama plans to some extent. It’s too early to say.

The best we can do for the moment is hope that a degree of normality will return such that we can present a full programme for next season. To that end we have now secured an extension to our performance licence that would allow us to complete rehearsals for FlatSpin and make that the first play at the end of October if possible.

However, it is far too early to make positive plans but when we do know we will certainly announce it here.

Stay Home, Stay Safe

So in the meantime we will continue with our readings and Zoom meetings and a few posts on here. So stay home, stay safe and see you all soon.

Say it with flowers – the photos

As we head towards the end of the month our rehearsals for our next production are well under way.

However, before we become too distracted by that here are a small selection of photos from our enjoyable run of Jane Thornton’s ‘Say It With Flowers’.

Credits once again to Dave Hackett who was there to take photos at our dress rehearsal night.

And if you want to know a bit more about our next production click here for details. Tickets available now.

Reviews for Say It With Flowers

On our opening night for Say It With Flowers we had Geoff Haywood in the audience who is a representative of NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Organisation). Geoff came backstage after the play to meet and speak to the cast and was very complimentary and has subsequently sent us his review for the NODA website and we proudly show it below.

On the Saturday night not only did we have Jane Thornton herself in the audience but we also welcomed another member of NODA, Les Smith, Councillor (Chair) for the North East Region who also expressed his appreciation of the play.

A review of SAY IT WITH FLOWERS by Jane Thornton
By Geoff Haywood (NODA representative)

The audience erupted into a spontaneous and prolonged applause when the curtains opened to reveal a quite magnificent outdoor set showing a patio, well kept lawn with a pond and several garden ornaments, a garden shed on stage right, entrance to the back of the premises on stage left and a gate DSL leading to the driveway and the front of the house. There was other tasteful décor to the set. What an opening to a show.
Stan, played by Rob Newton is an irascible sixty plus year old who has lost his job as a result of a speculative builder buying the village garage and putting houses on the site. He is obsessed with his garden, greenhouse and making model boats and does not pay much attention to his wife, Mavis (Dianne Turner) who in turn is more interested in being a member of the local drama group with her fellow thespians. Thus we have constant war of words between Stan and Mavis, he moaning that he gets very little help and his meals are not always ready and she, Mavis wanting her own freedom and time to express herself. These two characters were excellent throughout the production giving strong performances and keeping up the bickering and showing the pathos of a warring couple struggling to find their own true niche in life.
Enter Richard (Wyn Price ) and Vera (Barbara Failey) he a Guilgudesque character and she a somewhat coarse loudmouthed but well meaning woman. Both are members of the drama group but he is constantly quoting from past shows, reliving his parts, whilst she is more down to earth and shows a heart of gold underneath her brash exterior. These two are the perfect foils to Stan and Mavis with the emphasis on supporting Mavis against the penny-pinching Stan who will not even give away any of his precious plants of which at his own admission he has too many. Again we have two players acting with consummate ease and the scene in which Richard beaks down whilst recounting his love for his now dead boyfriend held the audience spellbound .
Living next door is Rio, beautifully and casually played by Wendy Fairburn. She is obviously a lover of the Goth way of dress in that she dresses in black and red with her long hair the same colours a white face with contrasting black eyebrows and blood red lipstick. Her role here is looking after the house and the constantly barking dog and coming into Stan’s beloved garden in search of her rabbit which escapes at frequent intervals. Stan makes her a rabbit hutch which she promptly sells. She is, however not all she appears to be and in spite of her spying on Stan from her upstairs bedroom window and telling tales she shows a different side to her character at the end of the play.
The drama group has to disband as they are refused a new season in the Church hall even though they have raised an average of £1000.00 per year for the last ten years for the Church. So what to do? They decide to enter the “Village in Bloom” competition. Some silly dancing class has taken over their rehearsal space.
With much enthusiasm, little knowledge of flowers etc the group press on often quite hilariously in preparing the garden for the competition with initially opposition from Stan but who on the end becomes as enthusiastic as the others.
The garden is transformed and they eagerly await the judging of their efforts. But who is the judge? None other than the Lady Mayoress who just happens to be the wife of the builder who put Stan out of a job and whose daughter runs the dancing class which resulted in the drama group being evicted from the Church Hall! Understandably words are exchanged or should one say insults are thrown from both sides. The Mayoress (Sue Hart) plays her cameo role quite exquisitely in the manner of Dolores Umbridge, from the Harry Potter series, simpering and refusing all methods of persuasion in refusing to award them any sort of prize.
The theatrical group go in search of another venue leaving Stan conspiring with Rio by making dog kennels in order that he can raise money to take Mavis to Italy to see their daughter.
Janet Drewery has directed this with a great understanding of a script which poses so many differences between the characters and the result is a truly professional performance.
The Props team must take a big accolade for their sterling work in providing such good ways of decorating the garden and showing much detail in their work, this together with a good lighting set and excellent sound effects added to the production