The Barn Theatre,
25 Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, Surrey
RH8 0AA.

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Southern Counties Drama Festival 2010


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The Southern Counties Drama Festival once again had a very successful week at the Barn Theatre, Oxted. The result was in the balance until the final play on the final evening on Saturday, making this year's festival a nail biting finish.

Before announcing the results, the adjudicator, Arthur Rochester, summed up the week and praised the festival organisers for the superb and buoyant festival, so different to when he last adjudicated at the Barn in 2005. He praised all the teams for their contribution towards some memorable performances. He also congratulated all of the youth entries for rising to the challenge of entering a competitive festival and hoped that they took on board his comments and found them constructive.

Thanks to the continued support from the Gatwick Airport Community Trust, the festival was able to give a cheque for 100 to the two teams' 'Barfield Players' and the 'Young Oxted Players' who progressed to the next round of the All-England Theatre Festival.

Results
Festival Winner
Best Actress Award - Sophie Kisilevsky
Best Actor Award - Richard Jeffreys
Barfield Players The Window Cleaner


This was a two-hander by Gillian Plowman in which Jill the window cleaner surprises Daryl, a burglar, in a flat for which she has the keys. They discover a great deal about one another as the situation unwinds and tension builds. The adjudicator said that Sophie Kisilevsky, winner of the Best Actress Award had great vocal variety and Richard Jeffreys, winner of the Best Actor Award moved easily from laconic to bluster and back again as the situation required. The set was praised for giving the impression of wealth which the lighting complemented. He congratulated the director, Sandra Barfield on using the whole of the stage, with the moves flowing naturally as the action demanded. Barfield Players will now represent the Southern Counties Drama Festival at the Quarter Finals of the All-England Theatre Festival of One-act Plays at The Playhouse, Walton-on-Thames on Sunday March 7th.

Festival Runner Up
Gatwick Airport Community Trust Award for Best Youth Production
The Young Oxted Players 1 of 56


The Young Oxted Players, playing at their home venue, had another excellent festival, repeating the success they have had in the last two years. They scooped two awards, the Gatwick Airport Community Trust Award for Best Youth Production and Festival Runner Up and as such they will also represent the Southern Counties Drama Festival in the Quarter Finals on Sunday. The play which was written and directed by nineteen year old Ben Atterbury told the story of Joshua Thompson who found himself a prisoner of his own imagination when he fell into a coma and we followed him as he tumbled through his memories. The adjudicator congratulated Ben as it was a considerable achievement in one so young to come second in a drama festival.

Ben Atterbury's view of writing and directing a play for SCDF
'I had been involved with the festival before, but only ever in an acting capacity, I had loved it both times, the opportunity to pit your talents against other societies in competition had evoked something very competitive in me and I was hooked.
When I knew that I would be taking a year out of school and would have time free from September through until March, I knew I wanted to test my direction skills, and threw my name into the hat to direct the Young Oxted Player's SCDF entry. I got the job, and then set about trying to choose an appropriate one act play for a group of older teenagers to perform. Nothing. I couldn't even find one play that interested me sufficiently.
And then I hit on an idea, why not do it myself? The scale and ambition put me off this initially but slowly I found myself coming round to the idea and late in September I set about writing a one act play. I had always enjoyed writing and the one rule I applied to this was to 'write from what you know', so I based the whole idea around the formative experiences of life, from birth to 18th birthday. Basing it this way allowed me to use a whole 20 years worth of memories as a starting point for scene ideas, and from there the scenes would spin off and take on a life of their own.
I finished a first draft within a couple of weeks, had it passed by relevant society committees and then set about casting, by this time aided by my wonderful assistant director Flo. We cast in mid-october and throughout November I met with my cast in order to workshop my still raw script. We cut, rewrote and invented scenes together until the balance of the play was just right. The play was still all my own work, but this time was invaluable as it helped me to find out what worked and what didn't, and have the cast put their own touches on a play that I needed them to be 100% invested in.
Time moved on and throughout January and February we set about staging it, spending time in cramped spaces imagining props, costumes and sets as we laid the foundations for the production. In early February we built pieces of set, a large bed on wheels, a big door frame splashed with paint. These were all things that up until that point had been a fallacy, something I could only see when I shut my eyes, but now they were a reality, the whole thing was so exciting.
We rehearsed and rehearsed until finally February 25th came around; showtime. I was all nervous energy as we set the stage and made final preparations. I wished good luck upon my cast and left to find my seat in the audience. It was a nerve wracking experience to watch but by the end I was brimming with pride. A great adjudication followed and a second place was awarded; we were going to the next round.
My whole experience of the SCDF has been nothing but positive, and has allowed me to take steps towards furthering my own experiences and broadening my own horizons. The experience has been nothing but positive.'

Adjudicators Award - Mary Pearson
Heathfield Drama Club - Hush Little Celia and Ernie's Incredible Illucinations

This award can be given to anyone in the festival at the discretion of the adjudicator. Heathfield Drama Club entered two youth teams into the festival which the adjudicator felt was a considerable achievement and worthy of his award.

Best Young Actress - Jessica Barrett
Best Young Actor - Matthew Martin
Heathfield Drama Club - Hush Little Celia

In a large cast Arthur complimented a number of strong performances, including Jessica's portrayal of Celia and Matthew who played opposite her as Todd. Hush Little Celia by Joseph Wallace told the story of Celia who didn't talk. Her teachers wanted to know why, her father was angry with her and the psychlogist wanted to help but fellow student Todd tried to get close to her and through persistence, bad poetry and a bizzare audition for Romeo and Juliet he did.

Best Stage Presentation
The Oxted Players - Alternative Accommodation

Alternative Accommodation by Pam Valentine and directed for The Oxted Players by Tricia Whyte tells the story of an elderly widowed mother and her three children who are meeting to decide what should be done with mother. The children differ but mother has other ideas. This was an excellent comedy and great entertainment set in mother's sitting room, convincingly furnished.

Other groups taking part
Merstham Amateur Dramatic Society presented Sense of the Ridiculous by Rae Terence which was based on the idea that hell was other people.

Woldingham Players production Too Long an Autumn by Jimmie Chinn was about an old music hall star living in a home for retired theatricals. Maisie, once a leading light on the West End stage is a reluctant newcomer whose rebellious spirit challenges all concerned.

Sevenoaks Players production of Edward by Margaret Wood was about a friendship between three women, spanning more than 60 years which is challenged when an innocent game of scrabble reveals the truth surrounding their lives.

Tonbridge Theatre and Arts Club presented Fever by Reza de Wet which was the tale of two sisters, one who travels to the Cape Colony to teach nine children English and the other who stays at home in England.

Glow Theatre Group who are a youth group based in Caterham presented Three Characters in Search of a Verdict in which fairy tale characters get their day in court.

Heathfield Drama Clubs Ernie's Incredible Illucinations has young Ernie worrying his Mum and Dad with his 'illucinations' - to use their own words. They take him to the doctor who, to put it mildly, is sceptical.

Applause Youth Theatre Company presented Mark Ravenhill's Totally Over You in which three teenage girls who have their hearts set on a glamorous lifestyle dump their distinctly un-glamorous boyfriends. The boys however do not take this lying down.