Member since 1993
How and when did you discover Adel Players?
I discovered Adel Players in 1993 or 1994. Jane and I got married the previous year, moved into our new house in Adel just before Christmas and, after making the house reasonably habitable, started to look around the locality a bit more. We found the Adel War Memorial Association and, through that, Adel Players. We saw a couple of productions before joining. I think that one was a thriller, although I don’t remember any details of it. The other was the comedy She Stoops to Conquer by Goldsmith, which I remember vividly – it was lively, witty and well produced and an excellent advert for Adel Players.
What was the first production you were involved in and how were you involved?
When we joined, we were made most welcome – people clearly wanted us to be involved as soon as possible. The first production in which I took part was The Edge of Darkness, by Brian Clemens, in January 1996. It was a period piece set in an old house on a windswept cliff-top and much of the action seemed to take place on dark and stormy nights. I played a scheming villain who passes himself off as a pillar of society while trying to get his hands on a fortune. Needless to say, I got caught in the nick of time, and I very much enjoyed the self-consciously melodramatic elements in the play – there were lots of opportunities to play things up.
What different activites within a production have you been involved in?
Over the years I have played various roles in the group, depending on how much time and energy I had left after work and other commitments, but it is acting which I most enjoy. In addition to acting, I have contributed to front of house (selling tickets and programmes, helping people find their seats, selling choc ices), publicity (sending out press releases) and backstage (as ASM or stage hand). I have had two periods on the committee and last summer was Stage Manager for the Murder Mystery which we performed at York Gate Garden to help their fund-raising efforts. That was a particularly interesting task because we rehearsed the whole show at the Memorial Hall as usual then had to transport it 500 yards to York Gate and adjust to the space in their marquee in just a few hours. The role of the Stage Manager is essentially to coordinate the technical side of a production so that it supports the actors. With an amateur group like Adel Players this consists of co-ordinating the construction of the set (generally the biggest single job), sourcing and care of fixtures, fittings and props, planning and supervising changes of set between acts, making sure that everything runs smoothly on the night and clearing up afterwards. In practice the members who help backstage do not need much co-ordinating because the jobs are mostly straightforward - they just get on with their parts of the show - but the Stage Manager needs to be aware of everything and keep ahead of possible problems. ‘Stage Hand’ is a grand name for a dogsbody who does whatever is required backstage, depending on their talents, not very glamorous but absolutely essential to every production. For newcomers there are always more experienced members who can advise and help. Oh yes … the Stage Manager has another very important task, to make sure that everyone knows where the last-night party will take place.
What was your favourite production that you have been involved in?
My favourite production has probably been Lettice and Lovage by Peter Shaffer. It is one of those plays which sit delicately on the boundary between comedy and serious drama, and I like that kind of ambiguity. Its big idea is to do with putting colour back into our black-and-white world and celebrating the joy and creativity that go with colour. My character was Mr Bardolph the solicitor, who does not appear until Act 3. In the first two acts we meet Lettice and Lotte, two respectable but eccentric ladies of a certain age who form a strong friendship through their shared enthusiasm for re-enacting history. When Mr Bardolph enters, he has to sort out a dreadful situation: one of the ladies has buried an axe in the other one’s head. No-one tells us anything about his background but it is easy to see what sort of man he is – a shy, lifelong bachelor who probably lives at home with his bossy mother and whose idea of a wild night out is three halves of shandy. However, as the surreal story of Lotte’s accident unfolds, he is drawn into the ladies’ bizarre world and ends up an admirer and enthusiastic participant in their role-playing. He is only on stage for about 30 minutes but he undergoes a complete transformation under their influence and exemplifies the moral of the play.
How has Adel Players inproved your life?
I enjoy the time spent with Adel Players for several reasons. Firstly, because we have put on a variety of excellent shows – thrillers, comedy, farce, serious drama, period and contemporary pieces – and it does you good to feel that you’ve contributed to something well made. Secondly, because people don’t act like luvvies, which seems to be a problem for some groups, but just get on with what they have to do. Thirdly, because our audiences are always very appreciative and happy to have the occasional play which is more challenging amongst the mainstream entertainment. Fourthly, because of the variety of activities – not just the three main productions each year but also readings, excursions to see plays, theatre tours and so on.
What would you say to someone who is considering joining Adel Players?
To anyone who is thinking about joining Adel Players, I would say: Give it a go. No-one is going to tell you that you must do things that can’t do. There is something for everyone, and people are happy for you to make whatever contribution you can.