How and when did you discover Adel Players?
Bernard [Pat's husband] joined Adel Players several years before I did, because the job I had at that time involved regular long-distance travel and out-of-hours working, and being a member of a drama group just wasn't an option. I became active in Adel Players as soon as I retired from full-time work and could give it a proper level of commitment.
What different roles have you fulfilled within the group?
I've acted in several plays, and prompted for all Bernard's recent in-the-round productions. I've scouted around for unusual props, including finding and buying as cheaply as possible on e-Bay things like an 1890s pen, a wind-up gramophone (which had been in bits in someone's shed), and an American Second World War field telephone. From the time Bernard became Adel Players' Secretary several years ago I've done the Adel Players computer work for him. This includes putting together the [members'] quarterly newsletter Adel Players Backstage (one of the innovations Bernard introduced when he became Secretary), helping to organise regular members' trips to the professional theatre, and updating members via e-mail about what's going on in the society.
What is involved in being Secretary of the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre?
The Wharfedale Festival of Theatre is a year-long festival with competitions for full-length plays, musicals and pantomimes performed in the general Wharfedale area by youth and school groups, and adult amateur operatic and dramatic societies. I've been Secretary for the past five years and in that time it has grown from an average total entry of about 17 each year to an entry of 30 in 2009-2010! I deal with the entries, liaise with all the groups and schools throughout the year, prepare and update the Festival programme, liaise with the Festival's assessors, maintain the Festival website, publicise everyone's productions, keep the computerised marking database, prepare award certificates and, together with all the members of the Festival's very hard-working Committee, organise the annual Awards Evening. I try to go to all the productions that have been entered and I mark them as a Committee marker. It's great fun; I've seen seen some great amateur productions; and I've made lots of friends in other local dramatic and operatic societies as a result.
What was your favourite production at Adel Players that you have been involved in?
I prompted for Bernard's in-the-round production of Alan Bennett's Lady in the Van. Prompting can be frustrating because you have to concentrate on the script and never actually get to see the production. However, this production was such a challenge to stage in the Memorial Hall, there were some stunning performances, and I just felt it was a privilege to be a part of it. We sold out every night and had to open up the dress rehearsal to the disappointed people who couldn't get tickets.
You had a book published last year. How did you come to write it?
It all began when in 2007 I read Githa Sowerby's most famous play Rutherford & Son. It's a very powerful play that attacks domestic tyranny and the unacceptable face of capitalism, and it was a smash hit in London in 1912 at a time when women were popularly thought to be biologically incapable of high level artistic achievement. Having read the play and been deeply impressed by it, I wondered who the woman was who had had the courage to write such a play. I soon found that no-one knew anything about her. I began to dig around in genealogical records of the Sowerby family, read books about the women's movement in the early twentieth century, and probed theatrical history of the time. When I contacted Samuel French & Co for information (they administer the rights of Githa Sowerby's plays), out of the blue they offered to put me in touch with Githa's 91-year-old daughter Joan. I hadn't even discovered by then that Githa had a daughter, let alone that she was still alive! Joan entrusted to me a large amount of memorabilia of her mother, the existence of which was previously unknown (it's now in the care of Tyne & Wear Museum). Then I was contacted via the National Theatre by a director who wanted to put Rutherford & Son on in Tyneside. Tyneside is where Githa was born and where the play is based, yet it had never been performed professionally there. To cut a long story short, with the support of Threshold Theatre company and New Writing North I ended up writing Githa's biography under the title Looking for Githa. I was also involved both with the Tyneside production of Rutherford & Son and in a festival of other events there to celebrate Githa's achievements. It's really satisfying to know that I've played a part in getting proper recognition for this very talented and courageous playwright.
As for the murder mystery plays, I first of all freely adapted an existing one to make it suitable for Adel Players to perform in aid of York Gate gardens in 2009, and then I got the bit between my teeth and wrote two original ones. The Sins of the Father was performed by Adel Players in June 2010 last summer in aid of Adel St John the Baptist Church and Adel War Memorial Association (AWMA). Beyond the Devil's Field was performed by Adel Players in aid of the AWMA in May 2011. All three are being published on the internet.
What makes Adel Players special?
Its members care about making good theatre and they work very hard indeed to do just that. They also care about one another, and are supportive and helpful. We have some very talented people in the group who it's a privilege to act with, but no-one ever puts on airs or thinks they've a right to be given whatever part they fancy.
And new members don't have to wait for ever to get a part; if they're good enough, they get cast.
What are your favourite social activities with the group?
The theatre trips are great fun. We've seen some excellent productions in theatres all over the region - Shakespeare, Ayckbourn, pantomimes; musicals - you name it, we've seen it. The weirdest was a production at York's Theatre Royal of MacBeth in Japanese costume, closely followed in the weirdness stakes by the production at Manchester's Royal Exchange theatre of The Revenger's Tragedy, during which two of the actors danced a "corpse" round the stage singing 'The Sun Has Got His Hat On!'
What would you say to someone who is considering joining Adel Players?
I'd remind them that all the members of Adel Players were new themselves once so they all know what it feels like being new, and there's no need to be shy. I'd advise them to come and meet us informally at a rehearsal or a play-reading before committing themselves to joining, so they can see how we work. And I'd say that if they do end up joining they'll make great new friends who are interested in the same things they are, they'll laugh a lot, they'll find themselves working very hard as part of a team to achieve the highest standards of production possible, and they'll get a lot of satisfaction when it's obvious from the response from the audiences that we've done a good professional job.